Do you remember Jesus’ saying about salt –‘“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavour? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.’? For us salt may seem mostly about the taste but in Jesus’ time it was at least as much about preservation and purification. And as we know, you don’t need very much for it to have a significant effect – it is quite potent. Either way if it loses its saltiness it becomes ineffective.
But there is another way in which salt can be ineffective too: what if you never add it in the first place?! I’m not the greatest cook, but even I know that however potent a pinch of salt might be it isn’t going to have any effect if it isn’t in the mix with the food. It’s basically the same principle, but for completely the opposite reason, we find ourselves in various levels of lockdown – now there’s a word that must be the front-runner for new word of 2020! The point is to avoid mixing, avoid close proximity, and stop the virus and its effects spreading throughout the community.
Looking at various statistics the number of people attending church or professing some kind of Christian faith in England has dropped dramatically in the last 20 or 30 years. From 1980 to 2015 Methodist church attendance went from 600,000 to 200,000 and it is a similar story for Anglican, Catholic and URC. There is something really wrong with our “R” number! But we all know that. The good news is that Jesus and Christian faith is as “salty” as it ever was, and some parts of the church are growing – mostly the “new” churches, charismatic and Pentecostal, Fresh Expressions. I’m sure it is not a simple, quick-fix, single issue. I just wonder whether we have allowed ourselves to unintentionally slip into some kind of spiritual, or perhaps evangelistic “lockdown”, struggling to share or even express our faith in Jesus to anyone, let alone those beyond the church.
Returning to Jesus’ teaching, the effectiveness of salt depends on its potency and its close proximity. For us as salt of the earth our potency, “saltiness” (and our confidence) comes from our relationship with God, getting to know Him through the Bible, prayer and the empowering of the Holy Spirit, and our close proximity comes through our relationships with the people around us. I recognise that it is difficult at the moment, but we can still build up our faith, encourage others in theirs, build relationships with neighbours and colleagues. Some of us may even have more time for this at the moment. Start praying for God to give you opportunities to share something really simple about your experience of His goodness & love with them.
Remember, according to Jesus, you ARE the “salt of the earth”.
Blessings in Christ,