31 May Salty Christians
“Salt is good, but if it no longer tastes like salt, how can it be made to taste salty again? It is no longer good for the soil or even for the manure pile. People simply throw it out. If you have ears, pay attention!” Luke 14:34-35 (CEV).
It would be an understatement to say that the current political environment is charged. In fact, it seems we live in one of the most politically tumultuous times in recent history. Christians find themselves on both sides of the debates. William Blake said, “The vision of Christ that thou dost see is my vision’s greatest enemy.” It would seem that there are many different visions of Christ, and what it means to follow Him today. As I’ve reflected on this season, I’ve thought a good deal about my vision of Christ and what it means to me to follow Him. This week, I’m sharing a devotion from Luke 14 that speaks deeply to me about what it means to be “salty”.
God, help us to listen, hear and follow you.
Read Luke 14
One day I joined a friend for dinner. They had made one of their famous dishes. I had this anticipation of that first taste. As I raised the fork to take the first soul-satisfying bite, I found my lips pursed and face contorted. They had mistakenly not added enough salt. It left the flavor severely lacking.
The themes of Luke 14 have a familiarity. They are like an old friend. They remind of us Jesus’ words that we should be the “salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). Salt was highly valued and extremely important in the ancient world. It was not “a” seasoning. In many ways, it was “the” seasoning. It played a highly important role in preserving or keeping things from going bad, and in seasoning or adding flavor. It has come to serve many other functions since that time from being a catalyst for fire, to being used in fertilizer, to use in manufacturing. As Christians, how often are we like that famous dish I anticipated, not salty enough?
Why would Jesus end a healing at a high-society dinner, a parable about the feast in the kingdom, and a lesson on the cost of discipleship with a caution about not losing our saltiness, which he then follows with a call for those who can hear to listen?
In each of the three instances in the chapter, Jesus is like salt adding flavor. Scripture says he was being “carefully watched” (Luke 1:1). He is giving meaning to the situations and demonstrating appropriate behaviors. He is preserving the fundamental truths that should guide a follower of Christ. He teaches that being salty means being willing to be counter cultural, unconventional in your thinking and behavior, humble, and willing to lose everything. He also reminds us that that we influence our environment and those around us who are carefully watching. I pray that as we are watched by those around us they will find that the cause of vulnerable children and families is a priority in our conversations and addressing their needs is demonstrated in our actions.
Is the way you are living your life helping to preserve the fundamental truths of scripture? Is it preserving values that are important for you and those around you? Does your presence bring meaning to difficult situation? Where are you acting against expectations for the cause of Christ? Are you giving up or making sacrifices to advance the kingdom? Who is carefully watching you?
Ask God to show you areas where you need to be counter cultural, unconventional, humble or willing to sacrifice. Ask Him to touch your heart and open your mind so that you can hear him.
Lord, you know me deeply and intimately. I surrender myself to you. Shape my heart, mind, thoughts and will so that I may hear you and respond in obedience. Use me to preserve the things that matter to you and to bring meaning to life circumstances that will please you and is aligned with your word.
Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Jesus Heals a Sick Man
One Sabbath, Jesus was having dinner in the home of an important Pharisee, and everyone was carefully watching Jesus. All of a sudden a man with swollen legs stood up in front of him. Jesus turned and asked the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law of Moses, “Is it right to heal on the Sabbath?” But they did not say a word.
Jesus took hold of the man. Then he healed him and sent him away. Afterwards, Jesus asked the people, “If your son or ox falls into a well, wouldn’t you pull him out right away, even on the Sabbath?” There was nothing they could say (Luke 14:1-6).
How To Be a Guest
Jesus saw how the guests had tried to take the best seats. So he told them:
When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the best place. Someone more important may have been invited. Then the one who invited you will come and say, “Give your place to this other guest!” You will be embarrassed and will have to sit in the worst place.
When you are invited to be a guest, go and sit in the worst place. Then the one who invited you may come and say, “My friend, take a better seat!” You will then be honored in front of all the other guests. If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.
Then Jesus said to the man who had invited him:
When you give a dinner or a banquet, don’t invite your friends and family and relatives and rich neighbors. If you do, they will invite you in return, and you will be paid back. When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. They cannot pay you back. But God will bless you and reward you when his people rise from death (Luke 14:7-14).
The Great Banquet
After Jesus had finished speaking, one of the guests said, “The greatest blessing of all is to be at the banquet in God’s kingdom!”
Jesus told him:
A man once gave a great banquet and invited a lot of guests. When the banquet was ready, he sent a servant to tell the guests, “Everything is ready! Please come.”
One guest after another started making excuses. The first one said, “I bought some land, and I’ve got to look it over. Please excuse me.”
Another guest said, “I bought five teams of oxen, and I need to try them out. Please excuse me.”
Still another guest said, “I have just gotten married, and I can’t be there.”
The servant told his master what happened, and the master became so angry that he said, “Go as fast as you can to every street and alley in town! Bring in everyone who is poor or crippled or blind or lame.”
When the servant returned, he said, “Master, I’ve done what you told me, and there is still plenty of room for more people.”
His master then told him, “Go out along the back roads and fence rows and make people come in, so that my house will be full. Not one of the guests I first invited will get even a bite of my food!” (Luke 14:15-24).
Being a Disciple
Large crowds were walking along with Jesus, when he turned and said:
You cannot be my disciple, unless you love me more than you love your father and mother, your wife and children, and your brothers and sisters. You cannot come with me unless you love me more than you love your own life.
You cannot be my disciple unless you carry your own cross and come with me.
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. What is the first thing you will do? Won’t you sit down and figure out how much it will cost and if you have enough money to pay for it? Otherwise, you will start building the tower, but not be able to finish. Then everyone who sees what is happening will laugh at you. They will say, “You started building, but could not finish the job.”
What will a king do if he has only ten thousand soldiers to defend himself against a king who is about to attack him with twenty thousand soldiers? Before he goes out to battle, won’t he first sit down and decide if he can win? If he thinks he won’t be able to defend himself, he will send messengers and ask for peace while the other king is still a long way off. So then, you cannot be my disciple unless you give away everything you own (Luke 14:25:33).
Salt and Light
Salt is good, but if it no longer tastes like salt, how can it be made to taste salty again? It is no longer good for the soil or even for the manure pile. People simply throw it out. If you have ears, pay attention! (Luke 14:34-35).