Blog - Embodying Truth

God's Salt Strategy and the Work World

Monday, November 16, 2009

Salt. It's within easy reach at most dinner tables. It's also found abundantly in just about every region of the world—whether in saltwater, soil, or rock. Jesus said his followers are the “salt of the earth.” What did he mean? We typically think of salt's power to bring out food's true flavor and to preserve it from decay. Jesus probably intended that we believers see our effect on earth in both ways. But I think he also meant something else—the ability of salt to penetrate.

When pork is packed in salt, water in the meat leaches out as the salt seeps in. The same process—water out as salt penetrates—works in the production of cheese. And a cucumber turns into a pickle as the salty brine infiltrates it. Jesus, who sends us into the world as salt, must have had in mind the penetrating power of salt.

When salt has done its work, it permeates the meat, the cheese, and the cucumber with some new qualities. According to the International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders, “Different cultures have variously held salt as a symbol of divinity, purity, welcome, hospitality, wit or wisdom. In Sanskrit the word ‘lavanya' expressing grace, beauty and charm, is derived from the word for salt ‘lavana'.”

Because the Spirit of Christ lives in each believer, we have the power to “salt” the world with similar qualities—grace, beauty, charm, purity, hospitality, wisdom and so on. Those qualities and more reflect our King, whose Kingdom we represent. In his parable comparing the Kingdom of God with yeast (Matt. 13:33), Jesus focused on the ability of the Kingdom to penetrate the whole loaf.

God has arranged to sprinkle his people like salt throughout the work world. Why? So that we may penetrate that world with those Kingdom-of-God qualities. A Christian friend of mine serves as vice-principal in a junior high school. He has frequent contact with 34 other teachers plus another 20 administrators, staff members, custodians, etc. In addition, he works in a school with 658 students. This implies a parent population of probably well over 1,000. Although he will not have direct contact with every student or parent, his salt-light influence—even as one believer—has the potential of penetrating far beyond our ability to calculate.

Tragically, our religious traditions have left the impression that so-called “secular work” is second best. Some believe their goal should be to escape from such work into “full-time Christian service.” But once you see your work as carrying out God's world-penetration strategy, you'll recognize it as front-line, full-time service.

Where have you seen Kingdom-of-God qualities penetrating the work world through Christians on the job? Please encourage me and others with specific examples.

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