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> Home > Biblical Reference > Church > The Church in Decline > (Matthew 5:13) -- "Christians Be Christian, As Salt Is Salty!"
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Christians Be Christian, As Salt Is Salty!

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

Matthew 5:13 (NIV)

What use is salt? In the ancient world it had many functions. Salt did not simply sit on the table, waiting to cheer up a dull meal. Found in abundance in the Dead Sea, salt served in ways familiar (as a food preservative) and not so familiar (to rub the skin of newborns; cf., Ezek. 16:4).

It is probable that the Lord here refers to the preservative function of salt—Christians are to live and act in the world to prevent its moral degeneration. But it has more than the negative function of stopping the world from getting worse. By speaking and living the gospel, believers will improve the societies in which they live.

It is striking that Jesus tells His little group of disciples (v.1) that they are the salt of the earth. Their actions will have significant consequences, not only for their own nation, but for every nation. Yet there is a warning attached to this broad vision; they must remain salty. Once salt has lost its saltiness, it is worthless, and so it is for disciples. As they live under the word of Christ in righteousness and obedience, they show that “Salty is saintly.”

The sting in this verse is the uselessness of salt that is no longer salty—“no longer good for anything” (v. 13). It cannot be restored; there is no resalting process. It must be cast aside.

Christians will turn the world upside down when they submit to Christ. They should have no small ambitions; the whole earth will change through their influence. A high calling has a high responsibility. When Christians lose their character which makes them distinctively Christian, they become worthless. Nations containing many professing Christians, yet showing much decay, must wonder if there is something wrong with the salt.

What is true for the nation is also true for the local community. Pastors and parishioners can serve Christ by applying the salt of anointed witness and service to the beginnings of rot in their own locales. If that rot is well advanced despite the presence of many churches, the search should turn inward. For when the churches are scarcely salty, decay expands by default.