“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” (Matthew 5:13)
Following is an excerpt from Mark Kurlansky’s fascinating book Salt: A World History. You history buffs would enjoy it. The rest of you will be subjected to a great deal of it in the coming year. It really sheds light (another topic for the year) on why Jesus makes the above statement about his followers:
Far more than 101 uses for salt are well known. The figure often cited by the modern salt industry is 14,000, including the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, the melting of ice from winter roads, fertilizing agricultural fields, making soap, softening water, and dying textiles.
Salt is a chemical term for a substance produced by the reaction of an acid with a base. When sodium, an unstable metal that can suddenly burst into flame, reacts with a deadly poisonous gas known as chlorine, it becomes the staple food sodium chloride…
Chloride is essential for digestion and in respiration. Without sodium, which the body cannot manufacture, the body would be unable to transport nutrients or oxygen, transmit nerve impulses, or move muscles, including the heart…
A French folktale relates the story of a princess who declares to her father, “I love you like salt,” and he, angered by the slight, banishes her from the kingdom. Only later when he is denied salt does he realize its value and therefore the depth of his daughter’s love. Salt is so common, so easy to obtain, and so inexpensive that we have forgotten that from the beginning of civilization until about 100 years ago, salt was one of the most sought-after commodities in human history.
When Jesus called his followers the salt of the earth he was talking about something more precious than we, with our modern minds, understand. The real challenge is are we proving him right?