“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” (Matt. 5:13)
Jesus uses salt to illustrate the role that believers, citizens of the kingdom of God are to play in the world. Salt is an essential household seasoning that makes food tastier. Prior to the 20th Century salt was the primary means by which food could be preserved so it would keep for long periods of time without decay. It still is used for this purpose today, although it has generally been replaced by refrigeration or chemicals.
In ancient times without salt a piece of meat would rot quickly and become nothing but smelly, disgusting and useless garbage. Because of sin, the world, like that meat, is subject to decay and corruption. The disciples of Jesus are the salt which hinder this decay. Now of course the Lord has placed several institutions in the world that do this to some extent. He has authorized governments to restrain selfishness and prevent anarchy. He has created marriage and the family as the basic building blocks of society to raise and properly educate children and instill within them love of God and respect for their fellow man.
Yet such institutions consistently fail for, since they are run by human beings enslaved to sin and subject to decay, all become corrupt and useless. Law and government only affect external behavior by restraining and punishing outward sins. Laws seek to change people’s attitudes about racism and intolerance. Society can educate the next generation to think differently children still demonstrate disrespect and violence. Government can do nothing about this corruption except spend money on studies and programs that they think will help but in the long run, these cannot transform inner attitudes of selfishness, decadence and immorality into the beatitudes of meekness, compassion, altruism and love.
The Lord has created the church and placed her in the world as salt to stop the decay. We who are members of the church, are citizens of God’s Kingdom. We have been redeemed from sin and have been made righteous. We are to use our righteousness to penetrate the world, its governments, society and all of its institutions. We are to influence and exhort people by our words and deeds to exhibit the righteousness of Christ.