Matthew 5:13 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 stroll down the streets of Charleston, passing hundreds of beautifully preserved homes, most of them with workmen on porches. Homeowners preserving, constantly fighting decay. Paint chipping, wood rotting, iron and metal rusting from the warm salt air. The word "salt" keeps running through my mind, and I wonder how salt can preserve and tenderize meat, yet rust through the iron and metal adorning these homes. I think of the immense cost in preserving these historic homes, and I am reminded that there is cost in being salt, in being a preserver of good, of the things of God.
I think of my sister who is in college, spending the next four years here, and I am reminded she will pay a price for being salt. I think of how she is living her life, giving so much of her time to Young Life, preserving the hearts of teenagers, adding flavor at a crucial point in their lives. Giving back what she has been given. Preserving her own heart in the process.
As I continue walking, I pass churches on street corners, and pray they are preserving the hearts of their people the way they have preserved the outside of their building. I pass a building where an Episcopal Church once gathered, where God's people once sat in pews and worshipped. I glance at the sign above the beautiful stained glass windows that reads "Bar and Grill", and I ask myself, "Did someone let go? Did someone stop preserving? Did someone decide not to be salt?"
I walk toward the white porch of an antebellum home with an iron table and chairs chained to the porch railing. I wonder who stole the first one. I wonder what that did to the heart of the homeowner, to the heart of the thief. The homeowner is determined not to let go, not to let the thief deprive him of his right to sit on his porch, to enjoy his life. He chains, shackles to his porch what is rightfully his. Preserving his way of life. Preserving his freedom.
I stroll into a knitting shop tucked away on a corner. My eyes feast on baskets of colorful yarn and beautifully knitted scarves and hats. Women are gathered in a cozy room, their hands and needles moving quickly and quietly as they form rows of stitches. Hands knitting while knitting hearts together. One woman is knitting teddy bears for children with AIDS in Afghanistan, another a shawl for her granddaughter, another a shawl for her home. Hands knitting. Hands preserving the heart of an AIDS stricken child. Hands preserving the heart of a granddaughter. Hands preserving the heart of a knitting woman through the warmth of a shawl and the gathering of women. Hands pouring salt with their gifts and talents.
I walk toward a building with a large sign that reads, "Preservation Society", and I think of the church. Is that what we are called to be, Lord? A preservation society, preservers of the hearts of your people, so that we can be the flavor of Christ, so that the world can taste of you.
I pass by the Gullah women weaving baskets at the old slave market, a gift to the slaves, a place for them to sell goods after they gained their freedom. And I am reminded that there is another slave market a few blocks away, where the hands and feet of men were once shackled and sold. An auction block for men.
I wonder what those shackles did to the hearts of those who wore them and to the hearts of those who placed them on. And I am reminded that salt stood up to those who shackled. Salt stood up to those who could not see that the freedom they were stealing was also stealing their own. Salt preserved the hearts of those enslaved and those who would have been, prevented the decay of hearts, the heart of the shackled and the shackler.
I walk by an art gallery where a sign reads, "Women in Art; Breaking Down Barriers." I am intrigued by the title, and I think of this woman in art, and I wonder will my art, my life, my love, break down barriers to the gospel. Will I be salt that rusts through metal, that breaks down shackles, that sets God's people free? Will I be salt that preserves the good in this generation, making hearts more tender to receive the gospel? Will my words, my actions, my thoughts, be as salty as my paint and my ink?
"You are the salt of the earth," I hear him whisper over and over. Be salt on shackles that threaten to steal freedom from your children, from your husband, from your loved ones, from your generation and the next.
And know there are times I will call you to shackle. Like the homeowner, who chained his furniture to his porch, you must chain to your heart the things of Me, my word, my truths, my ways. You must hold onto, shackle to your heart what I have freely given you, what is rightfully yours.
Rusting through shackles and shackling what is good all at the same time. Rusting and preserving, while adding flavor to a world that views the Christian life as colorless and bland. You must allow those in your influence to taste of me, to know the flavor of Christ, to feel your love acting as salt on shackles, to feel my love, the only love that truly rusts through and preserves all at the same time.
And as I pour you out, your own heart will be preserved in the process, not sheltered from hardship or pain, but preserved. My salt will rust your own shackles as you allow me to use you for my purposes, for a saltier life.
So this is how we guard our hearts, Father, not by building walls around them, but by letting you pour us out to a broken and hurting world? Father, would you equip me to be salt on shackles? Would you rust, peel away from my heart the things that are not of you, the unloving ways that only tighten shackles. The freedom I steal from others that also steals my own and causes me to lose sight of the truth that I am salt.
I am the salt of the earth. A ruster. A preserver. A bringer of flavor to a bland and decaying earth. An otherwise colorless piece of dust except for the flavor of Christ within me. Pour me out, Lord. Pour me out. Pour me out. Let my art, my writing, my life, my love be nothing but a way for others to taste of you. In Jesus' name. Amen.