“Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” -Luke 14:34-35 (ESV)
Purity is an important concept – both for physical and spiritual life. That which is contaminated or filled with the wrong ingredient(s) is not useful. During my senior year of high school, I took a culinary skills class as an elective. In the course of completing the requirements for this class, my fellow classmates and I were divided into groups and asked to create muffins from scratch. I’ve created muffins many times in life from store-bought mixes – Betty Crocker and I are well acquainted. However, I and the rest of my group members had not had the experience of making muffins from scratch previously (I should also note here that my mother and sister are very skilled bakers; I, on the other hand, am not).
I was put in charge of operating the oven and preparing the muffin pan – tasks which I was thankful for and felt well-qualified to handle in comparison to preparing the from-scratch muffin batter. After the other members of my group mixed the ingredients together and prepared the batter, we poured the batter in the tray and baked it for the requisite amount of time.
However, when the muffins came out of the oven, they weren’t…well…muffins. Instead, they were muffin-colored bricks. They did not rise; they were not fluffy; they were not edible. They would have made great building blocks for a house or some kind of outdoor structure but that’s about the best that could be said for them. As our teacher came over to investigate, she began to inquire about the ingredient list and the process our group went through in preparing the muffins to bake. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that one of our group members had accidentally placed two cups of baking soda – rather than two cups of flour – into the muffin mix. Just in case you’re not aware of this, baking soda and flour are NOT the same thing…
Fortunately, our teacher was merciful and we all got a good laugh out of it. However, we also learned a powerful lesson about the difference one ingredient in the wrong proportion can make.
So, what does my muffin story and the Lord’s teaching concerning salt have in common? They both involve elements – salt and muffin batter – having the wrong ingredients. They involve base elements contaminated with things in the wrong proportion or that don’t belong at all.
In the first century context in which Jesus wrote, most salt used in households came from the Dead Sea. Salt from Dead Sea didn’t just contain salt; it also contained various impurities, including carnallite and gypsum. These impurities gave the salt a poor taste and impaired its preservative qualities – essentially making the salt useless for its intended tasks. They had to be removed and the salt had to purified in order for it to serve its useful purposes in everyday life. Otherwise, it simply became garbage to be disposed of…and given the elements unpurified salt contained, this was no simple task.
Jesus compares this everyday illustration of contaminated salt with a person’s spiritual state. Disciples whose lives are contaminated by “impurities” – filled with things that divide our loyalty to God and our faithfulness to Him – are impaired in their usefulness. It is only when the Lord Jesus has His rightful place in our lives – as our undivided, undisputed first priority – that we become fully useful in His Kingdom’s work and fully at peace with who we are and where we are in life. To place Jesus as the co-ruler on the throne of our life with anything or anyone else is to contaminate the throne of our life with elements that don’t belong and to become spiritually that which unpurified salt was physically – ineffective and useless.
Thanks for reading and have a great week!