You are salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus says far more in this passage than can be unpacked in one short devotion. (I'd be hard-pressed to get it all done in one longer sermon.) So I'd like to just focus on the first part today. "You are the salt of the earth."
To figure out what that means, we must consider salt itself. Today, salt is commonplace and cheap. I can go to any grocery store near me right now and buy a decent supply of it for about 50 cents. In Jesus' time, salt was far more rare and much more precious. The word "salary" actually derives from the word salt - because Roman soldiers used to get paid partly with salt - that's just how valuable it was. So when Jesus calls us salt he doesn't mean that we are ordinary but extraordinary. Salt was a big deal - so you are too.
Salt was also a big deal because it had, and still has, the power to affect anything and everything to which it is added. You might not always taste the salt in something, but I guarantee you would notice if it wasn't there. I once heard a chef say that salt doesn't change the flavor of something so much as enhance the flavor that is already there - that is, you don't salt a tomato so you can taste salt + tomato, but so that you can taste what a tomato is like at its very best.
I like to think that's what we, as followers of Christ, can be for the world - something that makes things better, something that by our presence enhances the world around us, makes it more truly what it is meant to be. We know that this world in its current state is not what God intended for us - we can see the brokenness and sin all around us, including in ourselves. But we also know that Christ came that we might see the kingdom of God - that we might be part of bringing about the kingdom of God in our midst. When we are living into our faith as God calls us to, we will change and enhance the world around us - just like salt.
We are salt. Let us not lose our saltiness but share it with the world around us.
Dear God of Salt and Light, help me to be one who brings out the good things in the world around me, just as you bring out the good in me. Help me to keep my eyes and heart on Jesus, that I might bring his message to the world. Amen.