Blog - Embodying Truth

Workplaces Need Salty Salt

Monday, September 09, 2013

Salt. Jesus used it as a metaphor to describe his followers: "You are the salt. . .” (Mt. 5:13). Just as salt preserves meat from spoiling, so the presence of "salty” Christ-followers holds back the corrupting effects of sin in the world. I agree with that interpretation. But here, I’d like to focus on how the workplace serves two requirements of salt—the need for it to be scattered around and the need for it to soak in.

Scattering Around. God often works by dispersing his people. In his parables, Jesus pictured God as a farmer who scatters seed. In one story, he referred to the scattered seeds as "the sons of the kingdom” (Mt. 13:38). In Acts, God used persecution to scatter his salty ones outside their religious comfort zone of Jerusalem (Acts 8:1, 4; 11:19).

Today, the workplace has become one of the most effective ways God scatters believers. We—like those first-century Christians—still feel most comfortable inside our safe zones. But as Rebecca Pippert’s book title says so well, we need to get Out of the Salt Shaker and into the World.

According to U.S. Census Bureau figures for 2008, there were more than 7.6 million employer establishments in the U.S. That’s the employers with payrolls. Most of these establishments employ one or more believers. The U.S. labor force numbered nearly 154 million in 2012. A great number of these are professing Christians. Can you think of a more effective way to scatter millions of believers among the population of the U.S. than to send them into jobs ranging from accounting to zoology?

Soaking In. To do its work, salt needs not only to be scattered but also to penetrate. Little preservation will take place if it stays in a surface relationship with the meat. Here again, the workplace context lends itself to ongoing relationships that allow the influences of "salty” believers to soak in over the long haul.

Think of the long-term relationships Erastus must have had as "city treasurer” (NLT) or "director of public works” (NIV) for the city of Corinth (Rom. 16:23). Did he deal with contractors, officials from neighboring cities, bookkeepers, and so on? Or imagine the opportunities Lydia probably had with her repeat customers in her first-century fabric-store (Acts 16:14). Simon the leather-maker undoubtedly met again and again with those who purchased material for making clothing, writing material, and containers. Their workplaces scattered them into places and relationships where their salt had the time it needed to saturate.

Today, neighborhoods seem to have become less effective salt dispensers than they once were. As one blogger puts it: "Most people go to work in their single person car, leave work in their single person car, park their car in a garage and shut all the blinds to make it look like nobody is home.” Unless you work hard to stay in touch, how much actual contact do you have with those on your block? Far too many Christians don’t even know their neighbor’s names. By contrast, workplaces in the U.S., rather than neighborhoods, now serve as the major intersections where believers and unbelievers cross paths and relate face to face.

What, then, does this suggest that we focus on in our churches and our gathering times? What can we be doing to make certain the salt is really salty when it scatters on Monday and soaks in?

Comments (6)

Oladotun Reju (9/11/2013 12:05:16 AM)
Great thoughts. There is an African proverb that says that salt cannot season the meal while it remains in its container. Engagement and intentional interaction with corruption is the way forward for the church. Holiness is not known until it interacts with the profane
Larry Peabody (9/11/2013 3:50:09 PM)
Right on target, Carl. That's one of the truths we need to hear on Sundays to make sure the salt is the real stuff on workdays.
Carl Most (9/11/2013 5:41:51 AM)
I think the scattering and soaking really only means something when we remember that we were no different than all the rest at one time. But now thru his grace he has made us salt. We are different and useful, able to be agents of change. This miracle is our motivation and hope. If God has done it with us, He can do it with others. Grace to you all.
Stan Dickhoff (9/12/2013 10:46:10 AM)
This truth cries for recognition and appreciation for believers who work in areas that are traditionally regarded as occupations that offer the most risk to "Christian Values." Some believers become “stuck” in fields that might draw criticism. (Places such as gambling enterprises, companies that concoct alcoholic beverages, etc.) Rather than criticize we must pray that the salt is effective (and protected) where it is most needed.
Joseph Navarra (9/18/2013 12:09:50 PM)
I agree with Stan that some believers that work in some areas that draw criticism need prayers from us. God positions us where he needs us to shine the light for others. People that frequent areas where christians do not often are in the dark and someone need that believer to show the way of the Light. Imagine a work place with no christians? Who will help that someone?
Audrey Benn (9/18/2013 7:03:32 AM)
With all the catch phrases that have been developed in Christendom during our interactions with others in the world, they have not serve to promote what the Bible says. God says we are the salt and therefore we have got to trust the Holy Spirit to show us ways and means to make that salt work in a world that is decaying. Let us get with the business.

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