Blog - Embodying Truth
Workplaces Need Salty SaltMonday, 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?