Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Don't forget the salt!

The other night I prepared the mixture to make a loaf of bread in our bread machine. I usually do this late in the evening before I go to bed so that the bread will bake during the night and be hot and fresh for breakfast. I set the timer for the bake cycle and went to sleep. When I woke up in the morning I checked on the bread and saw that it had baked a nice golden brown loaf. The smell was delicious. I removed it from the mold and left it to cool on the counter for several minutes.

After taking care of some other morning tasks I returned, sliced myself a couple pieces and put them in the toaster. Once they were toasted nicely I buttered them, added some jam and took my first bite. I was looking forward to the nice flavor of the fresh bread and jam, but the minute I bit into the bread I realized that something was not right. The bread was beautiful, but flavorless. It didn't take long to ascertain the problem. I mentally reviewed my preparation process from the previous evening and realized that I had forgotten to add the salt. The recipe calls for 3 1/2 cups of flour and only two teaspoons of salt, along with several other ingredients. You would think that in that much flour a couple teaspoons of salt wouldn't make that much difference, but it does. The bread that I baked looked nice but without the salt it lacked flavour. It is edible, but not enjoyable. It certainly wouldn't convince anyone to eat bread who had never tried it before.

Jesus compared us to salt. He said that we are the salt of the earth. Our salt is part of what draws unbelievers to his kingdom. Leave the salt out and the flavour will be ruined. No one will want to enjoy the "loaf" of his kingdom. As I think about this in terms of my own life, it reminds me that I can do lots of good things in this world and provide some benefit. But if I am not in relationship with my Saviour, I will lose my saltiness and became bland and flavourless. People will not be drawn to him through me simply because I do good things. They will be drawn because they "taste" the flavour of Christ in me. Without that salt, my life loses its purpose. Jesus spoke to this when he asked what use salt is that has lost its saltiness. It's not good for anything.

In a similar way if our churches simply become social gatherings where we come together to hear some good words, enjoy some coffee and fellowship and maybe do a few good things as a community, what value does it have? If Christ is not the center of our lives as communities of believers, then our churches are not really any different from any other community group. They may do some good, but they aren't really drawing people to the kingdom.

Next time I make bread, I'll make sure I add the salt. At the same time, I want to make sure I'm maintaining my saltiness by keeping Christ as my center.

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