We are often told that we have too much salt in our diet, that it is bad for our health, leading to increased rates of high blood pressure, strokes etc. However, while this may be true in the terms of our physical health it can equally be argued that, rather than too much, our society is actually suffering from a lack of salt.
It was Marcellus (from Shakespeare’s Hamlet) who famously said that “there is something rotten in the state of Denmark” and it could similarly be said that ‘there is something rotten in the state of Australia’. While salt in our society today is considered a bad thing, in the time of the New Testament it was highly prized as something very valuable. This was in a pre-refrigeration world because of salt’s property as a preservative, and its ability to prevent food going rotten. This is why sailors used to take salted meat, salted biscuits etc. on long ocean journeys.
In our society we have a corruption problem, much is rotten. We have seen it in the area of the NSW I.C.A.C. inquiry into the behaviour of politicians, allegedly looking after their own interests rather than those of the public for whom they were elected to serve. There has also been much highly dubious moral behaviour in the Federal parliamentary arena, and there is the ongoing exposure of corrupt illegal and dishonest behaviour by officials and participants over a range of sports. Almost everywhere you look across society’s landscape it can be said ‘there is something rotten’. All of this cries out for more salt.
So where is the preserving, anti-corruption ‘salt’ to come from? Jesus told us the answer in Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth” referring to those who followed Him. Christians as bearers of the gospel are salt, and to act as salt in society. It is the Christian gospel, at least the moral fabric of it, that kept Australia a more honest, socially cohesive, and morally (not legally) regulated society than it is today.
What has brought about the corruption of public, corporate and individual life we see today? Jesus answered that question also when he followed the “you are salt” statement with “if the salt loses its saltiness…it is no longer good for anything…except to be thrown out and trampled by men” Well the ‘men’ are having a field day!
It is the constant leaching out of the ‘salt’ of the gospel from Australian society, which allows increasing corruption in every area of society from parliaments, through business and across the sporting landscape. What makes this worse is that generally Christians, the church, in Australia have lost their ‘saltiness’, being less and less ‘salt’, i.e. being increasingly ineffective in being agents of what is good, godly, healthy and wholesome. A significant indicator of this is the low ‘attendance index’ (frequency of attendance at services, Bible study groups etc) by many and the even lower attendance index of members’ children. Every time a parent decides there is some ‘good’ reason for themselves or their children being absent from opportunities for spiritual nurture, they lose ‘saltiness’ and so contribute to the increasing dysfunction in the society of not just today but in the next generation.
Jesus went on to say that the salt (Christians) which has lost its saltiness is only fit to be thrown out and trampled by ‘men’. And so we are being! The weakening church, made up of increasingly ‘un-salty Christians’ is being trampled by society. Without a new injection of salt, i.e. passionate, faithful Christians committed in word and deed (i.e. using their time and money) to the cause of the gospel, committed to proclaiming and fighting for the Kingdom of God, and its moral fabric, against the ‘Dark Kingdom’, then we will only see increasing corruption of society instead of the better one we all wish to see for ourselves and our children.
Of course the main way Christians are to act as salt is to “make disciples” of Jesus (Matthew 28:19,20), for the higher the percentage of Christians in Australian society the saltier and therefore healthier that society will be. Importantly this will not happen when the salt is kept in the salt shaker, ie. when the expression of Christian community is kept within the comfort of inside the walls of a ‘church’ building, totally unseen by the pagan society around. The ‘salt’ of the gospel need to be sprinkled throughout society, which is exactly what the ‘Unbounded Church’ concept is intended to achieve.
‘There is something rotten in the state of Australia’, and ultimately the only antidote is the ‘salt’ of the gospel. It is long past time for those of us who call ourselves Christians to make a reassessment of our ‘saltiness’, the salt Jesus died for us to become.