June 28, 2009

Salty Christians

Mark 9:43–48

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”


n recent days I’ve heard many news commentators reference this passage in an effort to show that the Christian scriptures are as violent and bloody as the Koran. The thing that always amazes me about their assertion is that this passage is clearly pedagogical in nature and not meant to be taken completely literally, although I think Jesus meant it literally if, in fact, it is necessary to chop off a body part to avoid temptation.

The other way in which this passage is clearly not like the passages in the Koran encouraging violence against the infidels is that this passage is talking about what we need to do to personally root out and destroy sin in our lives. It is not about violence against others; it is about being ruthless in our efforts to remove any possibility of temptation.

But discomfort with the references made by the talking heads is a convenient distraction in this case. Jesus is saying something serious to his followers here, and it doesn’nt really matter what the news commentators and opinion makers have to say about this passage. What matters is whether or not I am doing this. And I must confess—I am not.

Matthew 9:49–50

For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.

In my reading of this passage this morning, it also struck me that the passage ends with the discussion of being salt in the world. Jesus used salt to illustrate three qualities that should be found in his people: (1) We should remember God’s faithfulness, just as salt when used with a sacrifice recalled God’s covenant with his people (Leviticus 2:13). (2) We should make a difference in the “flavor” of the world we live in, just as salt changes meat’s flavor (Matthew 5:13). (3) We should counteract the moral decay in society, just as salt preserves food from decay.

When we lose this desire to “salt” the earth with the love and message of God, we become useless to him. I don’t want to be a useless vessel.

Then Jesus goes on to encourage his followers to “be at peace with one another.” Apparently all of these things work together in Christ’s plan for his people. We must ruthlessly root out temptation in our lives; we must impact our world as salt impacts meat; and we must try to live at peace with other Christians.

This is a high goal, but it is a directive given us by our Commander. I know I have a lot of work to do.

1 comment:

  1. Don't we all? Let's covenant to pray for each other that we will be clean vessels, fit for the Master's use.
    Thanks for your good thoughts. Also, the photo at the top reminds me to praise the Lord for your input into David's life.
    Have a great day, Son.


No personal attacks. No profanity.

Please keep your comments in good taste. Leave a name so we know who you are. Your comments are welcome, but anonymous flames and sacrilege will be deleted.