‘Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? Luke 14:25-35 Who ever heard of salt losing it’s saltiness? On the other hand, it is possible for us to lose the desire for the taste of salt, or at least too much of it. My mother used to say, “A little bit of salt makes a whole lot of difference.” No doubt, salt in biblical Palestine as it is today is not without great value. However, we don’t always recognize how valuable salt really is. This message of consideration from Jesus comes after a discourse with his followers concerning the cost of discipleship. At some point in our lives we have to decide what is “salt” and the price we are willing to pay for it’s saltiness (hint: money isn’t necessarily involved).
Let anyone with ears to hear listen! Luke 14:25-35
And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God.’ Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow-servant with you and your comrades who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’ The Revelation of John 19:1-10
Consider this. What God has given us through Christ is the gift of his birthright. The spirit of God’s gift is love. The gift of God’s love poured out for us through his son Jesus Christ is meant to be mutual. That same spirit of love flows out of believers who have received God’s love within them. If we find our selves unable to love, then perhaps we are having a difficult time believing and trusting God’s love through Christ is given for us, and thus instead, we show suspicion, disdain or anger. Don’t allow the food of the world to be your strength. Know that God’s love is the birthright of the believer and live strengthened by its grace.
Birthright; Share God’s love; Food of the World
No longer do we need to take things at face value. Face value is based on “what you see is what you get.” Faith value is so much more. It is belief in what you don’t see but know that God is working it out in your favor. It’s not enough just to hope for something. We must also believe and work towards that belief. Who works towards some “thing” they don’t believe in? Further, what we must believe is God’s ability and purpose and not the “thing” itself. For example, I may not like the situation that I am in, but I must believe that God’s ability and purpose is preparing me for the situation that I want to be in. In other words there is something about the situation that I am in that I need to learn so that when I reach the situation that I hope for, I will be fully prepared to receive it. Face value simply says that it’s an unfavorable situation. Faith value says that we believe it is an opportunity for growth because no matter what the situation we know that God is faithful.
Faith; God’s ability, Christ’s purpose; God is faithful
“The only thing you have left at the end of the day is family, and we your family.” Complete with fried chicken, macaroni & cheese, ham, collard greens and a soul train line to the tune of Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up,” This Christmas is my contemporary favorite. With all the familiar character lines and all the right music it shares the hopes, joys and struggles faced by many families today. It’s been four years since everyone in the Whitfield family was home for Christmas. Like most families there are several stories to be told, but all the elements of love, care and understanding remain in place. Before everyone goes their own separate ways, This Christmas has provided another opportunity to laugh together, cry for each other, and love one another in the way that is unique only to them. Family really is what it’s all about. It takes shape in various ways and is no longer traditional as we’ve known it in the past. Families can be any combination of relatives both immediate and extended, several generations, long time friends and some friends more recently. Families are the people who are there for you. More importantly, family keeps it real because it’s not always their responsibility to tell you what you want to hear. Every family has its own way but always at the end of the day your family is what’s left. I know for myself it’s always been a blessing.
My momma always said, “Life was like a box of Chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. Forrest Gump 1994” Let’s face it chocolate is delectable, and delightfully pleasing until you bite into one and find something inside you could care less for. Some of you may be different but if I don’t like what’s inside I won’t eat it. If it’s bad enough I look for something to drink behind it to get the taste out of my mouth. I know it’s a bit extreme but its only candy right? What about the beautiful homes or buildings we go in to only to find that the toilets are dirty. Do you use the bathroom or wait until you get home or some other place where you feel more comfortable? In terms of one another, physical beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Thankfully, in God’s eye we are all beautiful and God couldn’t be more pleased when we take the time to care for ourselves and the things God has blessed us with. Again, in terms of relationship with each other and things, are we not disappointed when we unwrap the gift and don’t like what we find inside? I believe that when we neglect the gift of the spirit force that God has placed within us God becomes very disappointed and he will spit us out or simply stop using us altogether. Funny thing though, whenever I sit down with the same box of chocolates I work hard to remember the chocolates I enjoyed and I don’t always remember which one had the filling I despised. Moreover, a dirty toilet doesn’t always keep me from returning to a place I thought was overall a very nice place to visit. I just hope that the bathroom is clean. The good news is that when we care for the good of the spirit within (confess, repent, reconcile and forgive), God forgets our past experiences and will always give us another chance to be everything plus more of what He always intended us to be.
Haggai 1:1-15 These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house. Then the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai, saying: Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?… Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord. You have looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? Says the Lord of hosts. Because my house lies in ruins, while all of you hurry off to your own houses.
Matthew 23:27-39 ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth.
Psalm 31 Blessed be the Lord, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was beset as a city under siege. I had said in my alarm, ‘I am driven far from your sight.’ But you heard my supplications when I cried out to you for help.
There is a distinct difference between humiliation and humility. Humiliation is a sense of shame brought on us either by someone else or occasionally our self. Humility is a choice we make that reflects our acceptance of who we are at the core and quiet confidence in the guidance of a spirit greater than the self. We’re all familiar with the poverty to wealth stories and the greatest of these is the birth of Our Lord and Savior, born in the most humble of circumstances. Yet the manifestation of his life embodies a kind of wealth that everyone before and after, young and old, rich and poor can only achieve if they believe. It is the peace in the knowledge that God reigns over all. Christ knew this from the very beginning and I believe it is why he walked among us in the way that he did. He didn’t need the earthly royalty, prestige, or favor because his anointing came from God. So too does our anointing come from God without regard to circumstance. So, there is no shame in walking the way of the Gospel because in it there is room for error (on our part), forgiveness and growth.
Matthew 23:1-12 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat… They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; They do all their deeds to be seen by others… They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi… All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
Our enemies can be found in many places, some high, some low and occasionally within our self.
The prophet Nehemiah shares an incredible story about the Israelites rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem under great opposition. It reminds me of the many walls we build in our own lives, the ones constructed to protect us and the ones constructed to guide us. Yet, some walls provide a false confidence, evidenced by their level of vulnerability to pressure from external forces. What has become most meaningful for me in the Nehemiah story is that fortified with the Word of God, we too can and should rebuild those walls. Particularly when the opposition to rebuild is at its greatest, I believe the reward in Christ is even greater. Much like the walls of Jerusalem to the Israelites, anything that is important to who we are in Christ is always worth rebuilding.
Nehemiah 4:1-23 So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.
Matthew 22:34-46 “What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord…(Psalm 110:1)
Doesn’t it seem odd that the Pharisees, experts in the law, were not able to answer the question? Jesus really does try to help the Pharisees come to understand what is happening in their midst, but they refuse to hear. The Pharisees had become the authority of the law, discipline in their use of the law, and more importantly had the support of the people. From a political standpoint life as a Pharisee was a very powerful position to attain. They had the support of the people of Israel, the ear of the Roman authority and they walked the line between the two. Who would want to relinquish that kind of control? I know for myself that every sense of achievement, no matter how small, moves me closer to a greater sense of control in my own life. I am not at all interested in giving up the little control that I do have. Yet, sometimes that is exactly what Christ asks us to do. When I was on pilgrimage in Iona, Scotland immediately after Morning Prayer we all had chores to do. I chose to clean the toilets because I knew what a clean toilet was suppose to look like and second, since I was using those toilets, I didn’t trust anybody else to do it as I am slight germaphobe. I would rush out of the chapel until one day someone beat me to it. It turned out that someone else had the same issue! It all may seem silly except that we all know of people in church who refuse to give up ministries because either no one else does it the way they do it, or it gives them some sense of authority. We forget that there is more than one way to clean a toilet and all authority belongs to God. Like the Pharisees we fix our mind on the temporary and forget the eternal to the point of blind ignorance. The Pharisees were more concerned about their own authority rather than ponder the spiritual saving grace of a messianic question. It’s easy enough to do in this world. We have to be very careful not to become entrenched in the realm of the physical, that we too become blind (and controlled) by its fruits.
A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
Matthew 6:19-24 ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Most people would do anything to protect what they treasure the most. There are times in our life when everything is of value, so much so, that when we are asked or forced to give something up it’s very difficult to accept. For years I valued my childhood in a small town in Maryland. The entire town was essentially a playground for learning with fields of corn, long patches of wild blackberry and honeysuckle bushes, backyard streams and rainbows after every rainstorm. I still remember my excitement when a rainbow ended just across the stream behind my home and my disappointment that there was no pot of gold, at least not one that I could see. I always hoped to raise a family in a town that offered that kind of out door adventure. Thirty-plus years later I visited my childhood home only to find that the stream that flowed behind my home had been filled in and cemented over for a basketball court, the cornfield was home to new housing and there wasn’t a blackberry or honeysuckle bush to be found. Oddly enough, that was a very difficult day. I never anticipated the change. For me, everything had just disappeared. Over time, we realize that the constant in this physical life is change, even in the things that we treasure. Sometimes we see change and respond. Other times change catches us completely unaware. The good news is that the physical life isn’t all there is. I am very thankful for the memory of the place I once called home. More importantly, that pot of gold that I couldn’t see then, I suddenly found.
James 1:17-27 Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change
Have you ever tried salt substitutes? It’s been my experience that there is no substitute for salt. If I want true salt flavor, I need to add salt. The value of salt is it’s taste and it’s ability to enhance food in a way that no other spice is able to accomplish, not to mention a host of other household uses. Salt at its beginning, has been and remains a valuable commodity. In the same way, from the very beginning, we who are made in His image are of great value to God. By the same token if we desire to be in relationship with God then He must be equally as valuable if not more so to us. The world understands, that so valuable is the reasoning, emotional human being (referred by Paul as God’s temple) that it would have us believe that we are of value only to the world. It’s not true. We were of value to God well before the world, as we know it, existed, and because of who we are, we became “valuable” to one another. Unfortunately, some today still use that value for their own purpose. Much of the world’s success in this abuse is assisted by our own inability to discern who we are and to who and what we give authority in our lives. Sometimes this foolishness of the world draws both the wise and the un-wise. In this age and the age to come, it is imperative that we continue to discern the foolishness in the world so that we remember to seek God’s wisdom. Even as the body of knowledge (wisdom) within a society changes, the salt of the earth will remain the same, without substitutes, valuable in the eyes of the Lord.
Matthew 5:11-16 ‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?
Luke 12:22-24 He said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,… Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!
1 Corinthians 3:16-23 If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.
1 John 4:16b-19 God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them…. We love because he first loved us.