Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Today, I was asked to do the devotional to start our meeting. I hate doing devotionals because I so often want to use the moment to make a point and I know that's not the right attitude. Devotions should be about letting God shine through the lesson that I've written, not propaganda. So, like praying out loud in groups, I generally avoid it.

But I also feel that it's not right to say no when asked. It doesn't give me hives, so I figure that sometimes I should let God challenge me to do the right thing and tuck my ego away while helping others to reach some insight.

So, I was on vacation last week and tried very hard not to think about it. I caught up on a bunch of work Monday and tried very hard not to think about it. I sat on the tarmac for four hours yesterday and tried very hard not to think about it. I kept telling myself with all of the reading that I do, something is bound to occur to me. Or, better yet, like Moses, I hoped God would send me the words.

Last night, finally, I wrote several drafts of at least two totally different ideas. I wanted to show everyone else that I really do love Jesus, despite my abrasive personality. I wanted to persuade my colleagues in various philosophies that I have about the job that we do. I even wanted to prove some of my more heretical doctrines, subtly and incontrovertibly.

Luckily, as exhaustion set in, I decided that simple would probably be best and wrote the following lesson. One of my dad's friends was in the meeting and tattled back to Dad about it, so I'm sharing this with you at his request.

I have been thinking about salt. The American Medical Association (AMA) is pushing for warning labels on salty food and would like Americans to reduce their salt intake by 50% in the next decade. Most Americans eat around 2 teaspoons of salt a day.

So, I have been thinking about salt.

When I was a child, we often studied this verse from Matthew 5:13 in Sunday school:

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men."

I'll admit that I also sang about this verse in a few different versions of Godspell. My Sunday school teachers used to explain that since salt was used as a preservative in Biblical times, it was highly prized and that is where this verse comes from.

OK, I'll accept that. If I was feeling feisty, I might have mentioned that when soldiers salted the earth, though, it was a tactic to prevent farmers from returning to land they had fled. The phrase "salt of the earth"” is a dominant one is our society but when you really sit down to think about it, the verse is a little confusing. But, OK, it'’s a verse that reiterates that I'’m important to God and that I have a responsibility to use the talents he gave me. The verses that surround this one confirm that interpretation: you are the light of the world, you are the city of God.

But, I'm learning that salt is much more than that. Salt isn't just a preservative.

Salt is yummy.

I mean, seriously, it makes things tastes better. Eggs, potatoes, radishes, watermelon. Making cookies is one of my top five skills and one of my secrets is to double the salt in the recipe. With just the right amount of salt added to a dish, the dish doesn'’t taste like salt, it tastes more like itself. The experience is more intense.

And I'm not the only one who thinks so. Americans love salt. The AMA says that 70% of our salt intake comes from fast or processed food. In order to make us crave that crap, they load it up with salt.

Because salt is yummy. And it makes food taste more like itself, more intense.

A few years ago, my father's best friend died. 900 people came to his funeral and his family handed every one of them a yellow card about 2 inches by 3 inches with one of those individual packages of salt that you get at McDonald’s glued to it and Matthew 5:13 written on it. But they didn’t use the confusing translation that I'’ve always known. Al loved the new translation, The Message, and this is how it interprets the original text:

"Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage."

Let me tell you why you are here. I love this version because it sets forth Jesus's metaphor as an imperative. Let me tell you why you are here.

I am at a stage in my life when I'’m still figuring out how to be yummy, and how to make God taste more like himself to others, how to make God more intense to the people I interact with. I'’m trying to figure out how to make my actions taste less like me and instead accent the taste of God. So, I've been thinking about salt.

Let me tell you why you are here. I think we'’re trying to do that here today and for the rest of the week to talk about how to be yummier and how to help people taste godliness.

So I have been thinking about salt.

Let me tell you why you are here.

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