"Jullie zijn het zout van de aarde". Vorige week vrijdag vertelde Dave een steengoed verhaal over het 'zout der aarde' en hoe daarnaar werd gekeken door de bril van 'Christendom' en hoe we nu door een post-christendom bril naar deze woorden kunnen kijken.
Zout; om te bewaren, om te doden, om te bemesten...
"Salt as a preservative
While I thought about these things I thought about the most used parable about our influence in Matthew 5:13: the parable of Salt and Light.
We’ve all heard about the many beautiful attributes of salt. How it ‘gives taste‘ and (especially) how it ‘preserves‘. “Christians should, like salt, preserve Christian values in our culture!“, people say. They have us believe we should have a defensive attitude towards ‘Christian values’ in our society. This often means having a offensive attitude towards ‘anti-Christian stuff’ such as gay-marriage and legalized drugs…
It is our role, people say,.. to be Salt in our society. To make the difference..
While that may be an appropriate attitude for Christians in post-Christendom, I think it does not properly reflect Kingdom principles (as I uderstand them from i.e. the ‘Sermon on the Mountain’ in that same Matthew 5).
Then I read about another very interesting use of salt through Stuart Murray’s website: salt as a fertilizer!
Salt as a fertilizer
Just as salt was often used in biblical times to preserve food, it was also used to fertilize the earth! Alan Kreider proposes this is actually a better way to interpret the text in Matthew five about ‘being the salt of the earth‘.
Although these two uses seem similar they are actually quite different: to preserve food you need to put the food (e.g. meat) in huge quantities of salt, you would have to ‘bury’ the meat in the salt. To use it as a fertilizer, however, you would have to scatter the salt in small quantities ‘in’ the earth.
In the former (preservative), salt ‘kills bad things’, in the latter salt ‘helps good things grow’!
Salt as a killer
Then I came upon another use of salt (in biblical times): ‘salting the earth‘ as a military ’scorched earth’ method. Kings would cover the farmlad of conquered kingdoms in huge quantities of salt, to render it completely useless (not fertile) for as long as ten years! (read Judges 9:45)
The value of salt for the soil then, is in the quantity, and the way it is used.
Back to the church’s influence in post-Christendom. Although I want to be careful with biblical ‘interpretations’, I feel this little ‘parable of salt’ is a powerful example of our influence.
The Christendom church uses its influence (control) to regain, preserve and protect ‘Christian values’ in society. It is very defensive and, so to speak, wants to cover the soil (society) in huge quantities of salt (Christian influence). It is a top-down approach that actually quenches all life, and kills the soil…
The post-Christendom church uses its influence as a fertilizer for society. It ’serves’ the earth, works unseen and unnoticed. Post-Christendom influence should, so to speak, work ‘through’ the soil (society) in small, strategic, scattered quantities of salt (Christian influence). It is a bottom-up approach that actually serves the soil (society) and it ‘helps goodness grow’…
Which approach sounds more biblical, more like the Kingdom at work, to you?"