Jesus tells us “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how will it become salty again? It’s good for nothing except to be thrown away and trampled under people’s feet.” [Matthew 5:13] We cannot exist without salt and we are to share our saltiness with the world! But what are we to do if we find ourselves in a place where the salt seems to have lost its taste?
Last week I gathered with a passionate, ecumenical group of people who made their way to the North Carolina coast from all over the country (and one from Canada) for a spiritual formation retreat. The late Bob Mulholland defines spiritual formation as “The process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others.” Throughout the week, I found myself in several conversations with people who were concerned about the saltiness in their local church (or lack thereof). These people seemed to be having difficulty connecting with others who shared their passion for spiritual growth. In some instances they were wondering if it was time to relocate to another church. My response was no, please don’t leave! Become leaven! (A small portion of fermented dough used to ferment other dough.)
Referring back to Matthew 5:13, the worthless salt still had some value as it absorbed moisture and made the road more durable to “trample under people’s feet”. It’s a reminder that when Christians become tainted and bitter, they can become hard to be around. But in the Gospel of Mark we learn “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.” [Mark 9:49-50]
Stick it out! And in the meantime find a tribe, or a para-church to help you maintain your own saltiness so that you will be equipped to be the necessary leaven in your local church. Jesus wants us to enhance everyone that we come in contact with. Let it be so.
The NC 5-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation is sponsored by The Upper Room and the North Carolina Conference of the UMC. To learn more, visit: https://nccumc.org/spiritual-formation/.
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