“Salty,” when used as a slang term, describes someone who is "angry, agitated, or upset," as well as someone who is "mean, annoying, and repulsive".
I’m currently enjoying some rest, relaxation, and some dental work in Mexico (in the Yucatan). While here I was invited by a local Presbyterian pastor to attend a Bible Study hosted at a Roman Catholic church. There were around 15 attendees, both men and women, most of whom identified as Roman Catholics. I know very little Spanish, but I knew enough to know that somehow the discussion had drifted into an argument among the Roman Catholics and the Protestants. The conversation had gotten ‘salty’ and the chief ‘salty’ one was the Presbyterian pastor who had invited me.
The gospel lectionary text for February 5th from St. Matthew involved Jesus’ describing his followers as salt. Jesus was identifying his followers as ‘salty’ people. In the sacred writings Jesus was not the only one to identify salt with his followers. St. Paul, in his letter to a church, reminds us an identifying mark of followers of Jesus is they are full of grace. Grace seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6)! In the same sermon, Jesus said the MEEK inherit the EARTH and a few comments later he says we are the SALT of the EARTH. Earth dwellers are meek and salty. Who are the ‘salty’ ones? The meek who gush grace, according to Jesus, are the Salty ones.
Yet our cultural working definition of ‘salty’ flies in the face of Jesus’ definition. What is more concerning is the cultural definition of salty actually describes the flavor of many followers of Christ: angry, agitated, mean, annoying, and yes, sometimes repulsive. Why?
Jesus knows there is a tremendous temptation for us to be something other than what Jesus has told us that we are. The salt can lose its punch. Knowing the temptation, Jesus quickly reminds us we are not the salt of the earth because we are right or ever can be right. Jesus knew our attempts to always be right would lead us to anger, agitation, and ugliness so he tells us His law will forever remind us that we can’t be right enough or good enough. We need a rightness that exceeds even the Pharisees.
The point of Jesus sermon was He is the only one who is 'Right'. He alone is the rightness we desire and need. It seems we fall away from grace into anger and agitation, and lose our flavor, because we always have the pervading need to be ‘right’ and ‘better’. We get ‘salty’ when our rightness is threatened.
Jesus is not calling us to be right He has called us to meekness and grace. The Message describes meekness this way: “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less.” We are blessed when we are content with the beauty and rightness of Jesus!
At the end of the Bible Study in Mexico the ‘salty’ pastor, who had invited me to come, apologized and sought forgiveness for his angry, agitated and ungracious words. It was in his confession of sin and desperate need for Jesus that he was truly and beautifully salty. He was salty not because He was right, but because He was wrong and was left with the only One he could cling too -- Jesus. He was who he was, no more, no less, with only His own desperate need for grace to gush out. In his confession at the end of the Bible Study he had shaken so much salt all over the surrounded table that everyone who was there left thirsty -- thirsty for Jesus.
Posted on Mon, February 13, 2017
by Brad Bresson