I’m no chemist, but one of the most stable substances in the world is salt. The chemical bond is very tight. You see, sodium and chlorine are happy to become one and share their one electron. The life of the salt is very tight. Mr. Sodium and Mrs. Chlorine are happily married. They are like the happily married couple that just loves to be married, no matter what hits the fan. Little can separate them.
So what was Jesus talking about in Matthew 5:13?
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage”. (The Message)
“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes insipid, what can make it salt again? After that, it is fit for nothing, fit only to be thrown outside and trodden by the feet of men.” (Moffatt)
Jesus was talking believing followers which He calls blessed in the previous verses often called the Beatitudes.
The greatest danger which the body of believers called the church faces then and now, is to lose its tang, its zest, its cutting edge. The Church will never die. It is in no danger of falling on its face to a worship of the devil. Ultimately good and God will prevail. Never-the-less, there is an ever-present danger which lurks to snatch us unaware to become insipid. Merriam Webster defines the word insipid as: 1) lacking taste or savor, 2) lacking in qualities that interest, stimulate, or challenge; being dull, flat, ignored.
Jesus was warning to the church never to lose its bitingly Christian flavor. I just had a quantity of California Sushi rolls for lunch. In the package was a large glop of oddly textured green material. Some would say right away it is wasabi. It is there to add zest and to add a juxtaposition to the mild sushi. By the way, don’t take that whole thing and put it into your mouth. But I digress.
What Jesus was looking for was a people with a zest, a tang, a flavor. Jesus’ way of life was a stark contrast to the world around Him. Jesus’ task was to add that zest that makes a difference. A specific tang that anyone tasting it would immediately recognize it. The only way to make salt insipid or worthless is to dilute it, to mix it with something that it is not meant to be mixed. If we lose our tang, our zest, our taste of Godliness, if we become insipid, what good are we?
It is just too easy to sidestep the tough questions. It is less risky to voice simple platitudes in the face of opposition. We can, and often do, straddle controversial issues and flee to a safety zone of non-committal. It is salt that has lost its saltiness; insipid.
The Church started in this world with a cutting edge of the truth of Christ. It faced Roman culture and politics so peculiarly that it turned the world upside down. Consequently, as it grew it became more reasonable, more sane, more strategic, more flat, less tangy, no distinctiveness. I don’t think that Jesus is happy with the adulterated salt of what goes by the name of Church.
I like that word, insipid. A good word to ponder and concentrate upon. Even better to think if it describes ourselves.