“You are the salt of the earth.” — Matthew 5:13
When Jesus said this, he was referring to salt’s tastiness. Who could eat a baked potato without it?
But there’s another use for salt that also applies. If a piece breaks off from an ice sculpture, the artist will apply salt to the broken areas and press them together. They will re-freeze back into place. I think that’s because salt will slightly melt the ice, enabling the re-freezing.
Since the ancient Mideast wasn’t a center for ice sculpting, Jesus couldn’t have used this example. It certainly fit what he was teaching, though.
He had just taught that an essential part of discipleship is being a peacemaker. It means inserting yourself between two warring sides and helping both see a larger picture. Peacemakers promote empathy and understanding while advocating for justice, compassion, and mercy. How else can frozen hearts melt a little bit and form or re-form bonds?
Of course it’s not easy being salt in this sense. People who stand up for human rights, for example, are “harassed because they are righteous” (Matthew 5:10). Some folks just want to remain frozen and broken off, and are ticked at those who don’t join them in their frozenness. (Just look at our political climate.)
Salty folks, though, keep offering a larger way of living. Even if they fail, they are blessed by wonderfully salty companions, those who reflect what Jesus called “the kingdom of heaven.”