While studying in preparation for my sermon on “Salt & Light” in Matthew 5:13-16, I came across an interesting tidbit in one of the commentaries . Commentaries can be very dry and difficult to digest, but every once in a while, I find a little nugget of insight so provocative and insightful that I can’t help but laugh.
It had to do with the expression, “You are the salt of the earth.” The commentator mentioned how in typical usage we tend to designate people who are especially good as salt of the earth. But that makes it harder for us to appreciate how utterly strange it must have sounded back then. He suggests we substitute the phrase to something like, “You are the Red Hot Chili Peppers of the earth” to recover some of its force. I like that!
It reminds us that Jesus’ statement to his disciples was not about status as in, “You are the world’s ethical elite,” but about function, “You must add zest to the life of the whole world.”
Think of a burrito without salsa, or a side of jalapenos. Just bland! Yeah, I know some of you don’t like spicy food, but you gotta admit a burrito without spice tastes rather bland.
Of course, I know there are many possibilities for interpreting Jesus’ salt metaphor in Matthew, but I thought this one at least gives some valuable insight into the function of disciples in the world. We do bring something fun and exciting, something even dangerous and thrilling to the regular routine of life. We break up the monotony of a boring life and provide laughter and joy. And there’s nothing wrong with adding a little spicy to life!