In a colorful commentary on the life of Araminta Ross, Beverly Lowry writes, "Our heroes come to us in flashes that fade fast" (Harriet Tubman: Imagining a Life, 3). As the subtitle of the book captures Lowry's intention, she carries us along on a journey with this amazing and bold woman whom we have come to know as Harriet Tubman, one of the heroes of the Underground Railroad. Lowry's comment concerning the lifespan of our heroes reminds us that our influence is extremely powerful, yet too often short-lived.
Our influence can be short-lived for two reasons. First, our time in this world is limited, and we should take advantage of every minute to invest in the life of someone else. Secondly, our influence can be short-lived because we fail to take advantage of the time we have to impact others. It is the words of Christ that remind us of the importance of our lives and how it should influence others.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks the following words: "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men" (Matthew 5:13).
When we fail to act as salt in our community, we do a great disservice for the cause of Christ. When believers fail to live out their faith before their families and communities, we become ineffective and our lives lose its saltiness.
Jesus called believers to go into their culture prepared to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. Too many times we blame the culture for its antagonism and hostility to the Christian faith, but some of the responsibility falls on the people of God who fail to carry out its mission by withdrawing from society.
How can we be "worth our salt" in our culture? I believe that Jesus gives us at least one way how to maintain our saltiness. He urges us to get out of the salt shaker. We are called to be salt of the earth not salt of the salt shaker.
When my wife and I first got married, we bought red salt and pepper shakers to coordinate with the theme of our kitchen. We took our salt and pepper shakers, filled them up, and placed them at the center of our kitchen table. When we prepared and ate our food, we did not sit at our table and marvel at the salt and pepper shakers and thought about how we could have our own food network on television. What good was the salt if we only left it in the salt shaker for its appearance? The salt was bought in order to be used and taken out of the salt shaker. So it is with our lives. What good is the Christian who only stays in the church and does not impact the culture?
The problem with many believers is that we like staying in the salt shaker. It is comfortable in the salt shaker. The salt shaker is attractive and coordinates with the other items in the kitchen. It is easy to be salt in the church. Everyone looks like us, speaks like us, acts like us, and believes like us.
However, if you are going to follow the Lord's teaching and make an impact in people's lives, you must get out of the salt shaker. If you are going to maintain your saltiness, you must get beyond the four walls of your church and penetrate your community.
The first part of Matthew 5:13 states: "You are the salt of the earth." In the original Greek, the pronoun "you" is emphatic. The emphasis of the verse can be read, "you yourselves are the salt of the earth." In other words, God is going to use you to be the salt of the earth.
Do not be distracted by other strategies that the world offers to change this world. From the beginning God designed the church to be the program by which he will use to change and empower lives.
God has chosen the church (each believer) to carry out his mission on earth. There is nothing wrong with education, social reforms and government programs, but the real transformation of the heart occurs when believers get out of the salt shaker and proclaim the salvation that is offered through the person of Jesus Christ.
True transformation occurs when God's people do God's work God's way. Get out of the salt shaker.
Donald Kirby is the pastor at North Hills Baptist Church in Marietta. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people. Those interested in scheduling a date for writing a Thoughts of Faith column should contact Janet Gossett at 376-5446 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if a Thoughts of Faith column is written at the writer's convenience and sent to The Times, it will run the first available date.