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In, but not Of

The Salt of the Earth (3)


VPSalt

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” Matthew 5:13

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Out of the saltshaker
The world of our day is becoming an increasingly unsavory place. Indecency, violence, incivility, lewdness, corruption, deceitfulness, oppression, greed – we know the litany, there’s no need to rehearse it all. To paraphrase a movie from my youth, “It’s a bad, bad, bad, bad world.”

Or, depending on how you look at it, “It’s a sad, sad, sad, sad world.”
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“It” Depends

The Salt of the Earth (2)


VPSalt

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” Matthew 5:13

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The danger of familiarity
There is a danger with a text like this, as with any passage of Scripture that we hear often, know, and love. These texts and images can become so familiar to our hearing that we think we understand them just because we know them. If familiarity doesn’t breed contempt of Scripture, it can certainly throw up a barrier against further inquiry, preventing us from improving our understanding and discipleship.

So let’s ask a question about this very familiar text and then attempt to answer the question from perhaps a different angle. Here’s the question: To what does “it” refer? Jesus asks, “how shall its saltiness be restored?” He then continues, “It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”
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Salt and Sacrifice

The Salt of the Earth (1)


VPSalt

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”
Matthew 5:13

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Taste buds and bastions
This passage, in which Jesus refers to His followers as the salt of the earth, is not well understood. This is so for two reasons. First, understandably enough, we tend to read this passage through our own lens, through the familiar ways we use salt in contemporary life. Thus we may take Jesus’ meaning to be that, as the salt of the earth, we are to function as a kind of seasoning to the world, making what is unpalatable a bit easier to swallow. Or, along the same lines, as salt we are supposed make people thirsty for the refreshment of the Gospel.
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A Word of Hope

God's Word to the World (7)


GodsWordWorld1

Blessed are all who take refuge in him. Psalm 2:12

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Ah, happiness!
These days happiness is an elusive commodity. People pursue it in various ways. They shake free of the “constraints” of religion and set out to establish themselves as lords and masters, hoping to discover a path toward a dream or ideal condition which is for them the embodiment of “happiness.” But as is frequently reported in studies and editorials and advice columns and talk shows, happiness, real lasting happiness, is hard to come by, and difficult to retain.

I’ve found that people really don’t have a very clear idea about happiness. Ask them what the “good life” looks like for them, and they’ll start defining it in terms of material things and sensual pleasures. The more they talk about these as the “happiness” they seek, however, the less appealing they become. The less it seems that these things or experiences will provide the happiness they feel they really want. Happiness is deeper than things or experiences. It is a sense, deep in one’s soul, that regardless of circumstances or outward conditions of life, everything is OK. It’s all good, come what may.

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A Word of Command

God's Word to the World (6)


GodsWordWorld1

Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling… Psalm 2:11

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A message of fact, fear, and love
God’s Word to the world, as we have seen it thus far in Psalm 2, may be described as a message of fact, fear, and love. The fact is that something has happened in human history, and nothing is quite the way people think it is. A King has ascended an eternal throne and is advancing a new Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. This is not just religious-speak. This is not just future hope. This is now, and has been for nearly 2,000 years. And there’s plenty of evidence throughout history to support our announcement of this fact.

This fact is a call to fear the King Who rules with such world-changing power, because His wrath can suddenly flare up against those who oppose Him. But it’s also a message of love, since this invincible King invites us into the communion of His throne room, to enjoy His fellowship and share in His love forever.

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A Word of Privilege

God's Word to the World (5)


GodsWordWorld1

Serve the LORD with fear; and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son… Psalm 2:11, 12

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Called to proclaim
The Apostle Peter explained that those who believe in Jesus have been constituted as a new nation. We have been translated by God into the Kingdom of His Son, the Kingdom of life and light and glory and beauty and goodness and justice and love. Christians have emerged from the storm-tossed shell of their battered lives and cruel world into the bright new dawn of a day they never imagined they could know. We definitely ain’t in Kansas anymore, Toto.

Those who have experienced this Kingdom and who live in the very presence of its King know that nothing in this world “under the sun”, as Solomon would say, can compare with the intimate communion, sweet fellowship, and transforming power of Jesus Christ. Peter says that those who inhabit this new realm are called to proclaim the excellencies of God and His King to the whole world (1 Pet. 2:9, 10). We want everyone to know the joy and hope and glory we live in, and to escape the fears, guilt, and folly of their rebellious, raging, and vain lives.

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