Salt and light are both effective commodities. They change the environment into which they are introduced. … It may be argued that salt and light have complementary effects. The influence of salt is negative; it hinders bacterial decay. The influence of light is positive; it illumines the darkness. Just so, the influence of Christians on society is intended by Jesus to be both negative (checking the spread of evil) and positive (promoting the spread of truth and goodness, and especially of the gospel).
Salt & Light
Salt and light are indispensable household commodities. Several commentators quote Pliny’s dictum that nothing is more useful than ‘salt and sunshine’ (sale et sole). The need for light is obvious. Salt, on the other hand, had a variety of uses. It was both a condiment and a preservative. It seems to have been recognized from time immemorial as an essential component of human diet and as a seasoning or relish to food: ‘Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt?’
In particular, however, in the centuries before refrigeration had been invented, it was used to keep meat wholesome and to prevent decay. Indeed it still is. H. V. Morton has described the making of ‘biltong’, the dried meat of South Africa: ‘The meat, having been cut and trimmed to the required size, is well rubbed with coarse salt … If properly cured, it will keep indefinitely.’
… Further, the metaphors tell us something about both communities. The world is evidently a dark place, with little or no light of its own, since an external source of light is needed to illumine it. True, it is ‘always talking about its enlightenment’, but much of its boasted light is in reality darkness. The world also manifests a constant tendency to deteriorate.
The notion is not that the world is tasteless and that Christians can make it less insipid (‘The thought of making the world palatable to God is quite impossible’), but that it is putrefying. It cannot stop itself from going bad. Only salt introduced from outside can do this. The church, on the other hand, is set in the world with a double role, as salt to arrest—or at least to hinder—the process of social decay, and as light to dispel the darkness.
Taken from The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7: Christian Counter-Culture) by John R.W. Stott Copyright (c) 1985 by John R.W. Stott. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com
The Salt Seller
In his book Led by the Carpenter, D. James Kennedy writes: A man walked into a little mom-and-pop grocery store and asked, “Do you sell salt?”
“Ha!” said pop the proprietor. “Do we sell salt! Just look!” And pop showed the customer one entire wall of shelves stocked with nothing but salt—Morton salt, iodized salt, kosher salt, sea salt, rock salt, garlic salt, seasoning salt, Epsom salts—every kind of salt imaginable.
“Wow!” said the customer.
“You think that’s something?” said Pop with a wave of his hand.
“That’s nothing! Come look.” And Pop led the customer to a back room filled with shelves and bins and cartons and barrels and boxes of salt. “Do we sell salt!” he said. “Unbelievable!” said the customer.
“You think that’s something?” said Pop. “Come! I’ll show you salt!” And Pop led the customer down some steps into a huge basement, five times as large as the previous room, filled wall, floor, to ceiling, with imaginable form and size and shape of salt—even huge ten-pound salt licks for the cow pasture.
“Incredible!” said the customer. “You really do sell salt!”
“No!” said Pop. “That’s just the problem! We never sell salt!
But that salt salesman—Hoo-boy! Does he sell salt!”
Taken with a Grain of Salt
It’s a warning people have understood for centuries. Some advice needs to be taken “with a grain of salt.” Ever wondered what was meant by that? In ancient times, salt was hard to come by, expensive, and even considered as a form of medicine`. In Latin, folks warned that some counsel needed “cum grano salis.” In other words, some advice might not be the healthiest around. In that light, you’ll want to keep the medicine on hand, just in case.