Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Salt and light

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.   Matthew 5:13

Is there anything better than salt?  No, really, can you imagine eating food that had not had salt applied?  No more salt and vinegar potato chips, no salt on that baked potato, and no more salt on popcorn, just to name a few culinary catastrophes.

Our obsession with salt is natural, other than if you consider we are really eating a rock,  - salt has been around for a while and serves us in multiple ways.  It can serve as a preservative, a flavor enhancer, and, combined with vinegar into a paste it forms an effective brass and copper polish.

Industries use most of the salt produced in the world today. The biggest single use of salt is also one of the least known. Salt is the feedstock for the chlor-alkali chemical industry, just as oil is for the petrochemical industry. The difference: we are not running out of salt! Chlorine chemistry brings consumers clean water, soaps and detergents, many medications, PVC pipes for our homes, cell phones, cosmetics, protective suits for SCUBA divers – and astronauts, digital cameras, flat panel TVs, electron microscopes, solar panels for energy production. The list is essentially endless. Manufacturing textiles, glass, rubber, leather, even drilling oil wells, depends on salt. Salt has 14,000 known uses. (1)

One of the better uses of salt, in my humble opinion, is in the preparation and curing process of country ham.  If you have no idea what I am talking about, head up to The Dillard House Restaurant in Dillard, Georgia and prepare for a feast.  Oh - take a 6 pack of water, you'll need it, but it will be worth it!!

I remember fondly the days from my youth when curing country ham was part of the family tradition. Every thanksgiving, the family would gather at my grandparents before dawn for the annual pig killin' and subsequent feast.  The hams, shoulders (picnics), and backstraps (tenderloins) however were destined for the smokehouse salt box.  The salt box was a coffin sized wooden box that to this day haunts my culinary cravings from time to time.  I can see clearly Grandma walking out to that box with her butcher knife and slicing off pieces of that salty ham that she would nestle up inside one of those cathead (lard infused) biscuits alongside a saucer of red eye gravy.  Be still my heart.

The effects of eating country ham are always directly proportional to the quality of the morsels you consume.  In my mind, the saltier the ham, the better the ham, and the more water I'm going to need to counter the effects of that much salt.  There are times when it seems I just cannot get enough to drink!!
I know that I will be thirsty after I eat the ham, but there is almost an insatiable craving for salt if I start to think of country ham.  I simply must have that salt!

Let's turn our attention to the scripture.

There are a couple of things to point out.  First, many people have a misconception about The Beatitudes.  Many think that Christ is speaking to a great multitude, but this is not so.  If you read again verse one of this chapter, you will understand that 1) Christ saw the multitudes, and 2) Christ left the multitudes and ascended up a mountain where he sat down.  Sorry, I know that kinda destroys a couple of images that you've collected from the movies, but that's the accurate picture from the text.

What Christ teaches with the next verses are commonly known as The Beatitudes - eight statements consisting of a condition and a result.  He is teaching his disciples about rewards.  He then moves to our theme verse and it's here that you may learn something new!

It is worthy of note that the salt of Palestine gathered from the marshes is not pure. Because of the foreign substances in it, it loses its savor and becomes insipid and useless, when exposed to the sun and air, or when permitted for any considerable time to come in contact with the ground; but pure salt does not lose its savor. The verse teaches that God's people keep the world from putrefaction and corruption. There was not salt enough in the antediluvian world to save it from the flood, in Sodom to save it from fire, nor in Canaan to preserve its people from destruction. It also teaches--as does experience--that a disciple may lose those qualities which make him salt.] (2) 

What was Christ saying?  As Christians, we need to be salt merchants!  There are so many application tracks we could take, but as I have been thinking of this today, I kept thinking about country ham - and being thirsty.  That's when the application hit me as being thirsty:   O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;  Psalm 63:1

So let's be salty- the best salt merchants in the world.  Let's season the world with the love and mercies of God.  Let's sprinkle everyone we meet with the salt of grace.  Let's be salty!  If we're salty - they will become thirsty!!

Bill stopped in at Abie's little general store, looking for a bottle of mustard. The shelves were loaded with salt -- bags and bags of salt. Abie said he had some mustard, but that he would have to go down to the cellar to find it. Bill went down with him, and there to his surprise were still more bags of salt. Everywhere he looked he could see salt.

"Say," said Bill, "you must sell a lot of salt in this store!"

"Nah," said Abie sourly. "I can't sell no salt. But that feller who sells me salt -- boy, can he sell salt!" --author unknown


(2).  The Fourfold Gospel by President J. W. McGARVEY, LL. D. and PHILIP Y. PENDLETON, A. B.

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