Salt of the Earth

Matthew 5:

13 "You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its flavor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people.

14 You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden.

15 People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.

16 In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.

(NET Bible®)

The Gate is narrow; not all are Called. Until Jesus returns, we will live in a world of non-Christians; we can expect but a few to make a true effort at living up to Christian standards. To expect otherwise is to resort to compromise of Christian standards and/or violent attempts at enforcement.

But does this mean we Christians should write off the world as inherently evil? Should we hunker down with our Bibles or retreat to monasteries waiting for Jesus to return? Should “true Christians” (however defined) indulge in back-patting sessions reminding themselves that they are The Remnant?

No! Christians are tasked to have a major impact on the societies in which they live. We are supposed to be salt of the earth. Ponder metaphor above closely:

  1. Salt is a minor ingredient in most food. A gallon of stew might have but a teaspoon of salt. Given three teaspoons per tablespoon, two tablespoons per ounce and 128 ounces per gallon, this is less than one part in 700.
  2. That little bit of salt has a huge impact on the taste of the stew!

Christians need not be a majority to have a huge impact on the society in which they live. We have the wisdom of the Bible and hope of future payment for our efforts. We need but tap into these resources and do our job.

Christianity, Liberty and Democracy

Liberty and democracy are under attack in the United States and elsewhere. The government flirts with bankruptcy as it attempts to pay for an unaffordable system of welfare and entitlements. Special interests bleed the national treasury with pork barrel projects, subsidies and tax loopholes. The legal system has run amok with out-of-control torts and a prison population that should be the shame of any country claiming to be “Land of the Free.”

Christians are not doing their jobs.1

We have a bloated welfare state because of insufficient charity. Or, perhaps I should say, insufficient unconditional charity. The liberal voter considers it charity to vote for high taxes and pay for them. “I’ll pay my part for the poor and needy as long as my neighbor down the street does his part.” The Christian Way calls for more; it calls for doing good works while living in the midst of the selfish. “I’ll give of my surplus even while that jerk down the road uses his surplus to buy a new Porsche.”

Actually, that is not enough. If good people do just their fair share, we have a shortfall, since selfish jerks exist. Someone needs to take up the slack. This is the job of true Christians. “I’ll give my part and make up for what that selfish jerk with the Porsche isn’t giving.” Do this, and conditional givers will be shamed into doing their part even without a tax collector. Moreover, they will note the Christians’ works and marvel.

(Note: maybe we should have some transfer programs to help the needy. I personally favor a universal basic income to raise the baseline. But when government tries to take on all charitable tasks, bad things happen. Hearts harden. Bureaucracy bloats. Rule of law diminishes. Voters are corrupted.)

We have wasteful pork-barrel projects because the voters ask for them. Who is willing to say “No thanks,” even as other districts get their unfair share? This should be the job of Christians.

Our representatives are corrupted by special interest money because they need the money to reach the voters. Few people show up for candidate forums. Few people read candidate web sites. Advertising is needed. And the easiest sources of money are greedy special interests, who have favors to ask. Honest government requires volunteers to give time and money in support of the general welfare. This is a charitable act, as most of the benefits go to others, the non-participants. A minority of dedicated activists can influence politicians greatly; politicians listen to their donors and volunteers.

(Note: this is not a call for a Christians uniting behind a particular political party or even agenda. It is a call for participation by honest people who are not asking for special favors.)

Our criminal “justice” [sic!] system is the shame of the developed world. The United States leads the world in prison population. We are the Land of the Jailbirds. Christians deserve much of the blame, and are properly reviled by agnostics of good will.

Being salt of the earth requires living an upright life even as that hedonist down the street smokes dope and watches porn. Being a true Christian means having mercy on others, not demanding laws that are harsher than Old Testament Law.

(Note: this doesn’t necessarily mean zero enforcement of morality. It means setting legal standards appropriate for non-Believers. For example God punishes even non-Believers for baby-killing, so anti-abortion laws are appropriate.)

The United States could be a free country, with little poverty and a low crime rate, if its Christians did their jobs. We have enough Christians. The United States is a particularly Christian nation.

But it won’t stay that way if we don’t shoulder the burdens which come from being salt of the earth. Today, skeptics see our bad works, and disrespect our Father in Heaven.

1I mean Christians as a whole. Some individual Christians are meeting the standards described here. And many are doing so part way.