Thoroughly enjoying teaching the adults at our church here on the Bolivar Peninsula in our Sunday school hour, we have recently delved into the subjects of salt and light. Common enough sounding topics, but so much information is contained therein that we have had long discussions, wonderful illustrations from real life, and many opportunities to ask questions and to offer opinions. This is what good, quality teaching is all about, in my opinion. It is not necessarily one “expert” standing and giving his or her opinion for hours on end. Instead, it is about learning, truly learning, and enjoying the process as it happens and making the topic interesting enough so that people dig out other material on their own time and in their own way. The brave ones come back to class to share what they’ve found.
We began with verses found in Matthew, Chapter 5, where we read, beginning in Verse 13, “Ye are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its savor or strength, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, so it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let you light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven” (Verses 13-16).
Considering table salt is, we will begin with the fact that it is a mineral. Salt is known as sodium chloride (NaCI) and is the combination of one sodium ion and one chloride ion. Salt is 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride by weight. We know that salt enhances the flavor of food, preserves food, helps to regulate and control normal body functions, and acts as a building block for more complex chemicals. Interestingly, salt is the only rock eaten regularly by humans.
According to material published by the Salt Institute, seawater contains on average 2.7 percent of salt by weight. Try telling that to a toddler playing in the ocean who has just gotten his first big mouthful of salty water by diving into a spiraling wave. That can seem like it is 100 percent salty, and when it goes up your nostrils or gets in your eyes, the effect can last for minutes on end.
The verses we read are interesting in the fact that they speak of Christians “losing the flavor” of the salt in the world in which they live. My husband asked in class, “How does that happen?” I did not readily have a good answer, so I started searching.
From a chemical prospective, a chemical reaction must occur, if we are speaking of table salt, and for this illustration, we will be. Salt is a stable substance and the chemical bond is very tight. Sodium and chlorine are happy to become one and share their electron. One writer said that they are much like the happily married couple that really loves to be married.
All of the writers I followed agreed that for salt, as we know it, to lose its pungent saltiness, or change its physical composition, it would have to be diluted in water because it is non-reactive in its crystalline form. Or electricity would have to be introduced to force the sodium chloride into its ionic components, thereby changing its chemical composition.
From this scientific conclusion, for Christians to lose their flavor or effect, the Gospel would have to be diluted in their lives. This might be done by way of a very complacent Christian, the person who does not protect the truth of the Gospel in his life from other ideas and ideologies. This person may be guilty of mixing truth with untruth or weakened truth or of outright denial of the things of God.
Let’s be diligent about not losing our worth, or our flavor, in this troubled world today.
Brenda Cannon Henley is an award-winning journalist and writer living on the Southeast Texas Gulf Coast. Having enjoyed more than four decades in ministry, Brenda shares her columns with our readers and works with churches and faith-based programs nationwide. She can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.