Tuesday, February 07, 2006
I haven't updated in a while; that's okay, because I haven't really been having a lot of deep thoughts lately. A lot of thoughts, perhaps, but a lot of them were petty and self-centered (if not necessarily wrong).
Last night at the leaders' Bible study, we talked about Matthew 5:13-16, where Jesus tells his audience that they are salt and light. In thinking about what this passage meant, we began thinking especially about what salt was good for (I guess we already had a handle on the whole light thing).
*Salt is a preservative. If you take a ham, for instance, and salt it, you prevent it from decaying so that it will still be good when it's time for it to be eaten. My understanding is that you can salt something as much as you want and it won't hurt it; so long as there's enough, it'll preserve the food.
*When that ham is ready to be eaten, however, it is necessary that it be soaked in water first, or else it will be too salty to eat.
*Jesus speaks of Himself as the provider of living water in John 4:13-14. We are the salt; He is the provider of water (I think that we can go even further and analogize Christ as the water itself for the purpose of the metaphor.
*Thus, while we are called to preserve those fleshy things of this world from their imminent decay, we are not what makes it suitable for consumption. Dead flesh requires washing by earthly water in order to become acceptable to human appetites; our living flesh requires washing by living water (baptism, of which visible water is the visible sign) to become acceptable to God.
*Just as a ham requires heat to cook it properly to avoid parasites which cause ailments such as trichinosis, we require trials in this life and possibly purgatory in the next in order to render us sanctified. (This metaphor isn't perfect, but I wanted to include it in its primitive form to work out later.)
*While salt makes food tastier, it is repulsive on its own in more than minute quantities. The salt isn't what makes the ham taste good; it is the natural character of the ham as prepared by the one cooking it. It isn't Christianity which makes Christians good; it is God preparing us in a way that highlights the gifts He has supernaturally bestowed on us. Emeril can make a great dish through his extensive knowledge of taste and the characteristics of his ingredients; how much more can God, who knows even the number of hairs on our heads, prepare us to be fulfilled in our heavenly design?
*Ancient salt often contained a number of impurities (if you ever want to become grossed out, look up medieval pepper!). Pure salt can't lose its saltiness, but it is possible for it to become so choked with impurities that the salt itself is disguised and rendered effectively tasteless. It is salt such as this which Jesus says is fit only to be trampled underfoot, as the impurities are probably of the same material as road dust anyway.
*Pure salt dissolves in water (God is infinite; we're in no danger of supersaturation!). Anything left behind is an impurity. Also, when mixed with salt, water becomes salt water and, while it retains its watery characteristics, it also gains saltiness as well. God became incarnate (through the Virgin Mary), and the earthly salt and the divine water were united in the form of the firstborn Son of God.
*It's probably also worth remembering that sugar doesn't dissolve in water. In hot water, it will do so temporarily, but once the water cools the sugar forms a precipitate. Sugar tastes really good, but it's not a preservative (in fact, I think it encourages decay), and isn't a substitute for salt.
*Sugar and salt do taste very good together, though it needs to be understood that however much they may look and feel alike, they are never truly mixed. We as Christians do not have a dour faith which only comes to any fruition when we die; we can interact with the things of the world and edify them, so long as we do not become one with them.
*Salt preserves flesh and (in moderation) makes both meat and vegetables taste better . However, to my knowledge, it is drying out, or a lack of water, which preserves vegetables. While both salt and regular drying out involve a lack of water, in the case of meat the salt merely removes the natural water until more can be added at the proper time. I don't think that happens with plants. What this says to me is that we are to make a distinction between the flesh of this world, which is the people, and the plants, which, it may be noted, grow from the ground, as opposed to merely on it. We are not to neglect the world, but saving the planet is not nearly as important as loving our neighbor, as our neighbor will live forever, somewhere, while the earth will be destroyed and made anew.
*If you really want to destroy land, plow the fields with salt. On the other hand, if the human body doesn't have enough salt, it dies.
*As Christians, we are often tempted to remain in our salt shaker. We're protected, we're around those who are like us, and we are pure white. To get out of there, we often have to be shaken. Being outside can be lonely. Will I be one of only a few grains helping to make a steak taste better? Will I be thrown into a pot to help eggs boil faster? Will I be part of a massive amount of salt used to cure a ham? Will I be used to melt snow so someone can drive to work or kill slugs so that they can enjoy their garden? Will someone superstitious merely throw me over his shoulder after knocking over the salt shaker? Am I willing to be used as salt, however that might be?
Whew, that's a lot of thinking. Hopefully the Holy Spirit was in there; I believe He was. If these thoughts should be corrected or adjusted, please drop me a line by email or in the comments to let me know, and thanks for reading.