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Salt is good…

I think this is a most puzzling piece of scripture:

Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.  (Luke 14:34-35, ESV)

I spent a couple of hours over a couple of days focused on these lines. I had little understanding of it until I realized a contrast. The preceding chunk in Luke is all about self-denial. It concludes saying:

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33, ESV)

Now, salt, I think, is best known for its preservative quality. More than making things taste good, two thousand years ago, it was an imperative for people who needed to preserve meat. In fact, it was a necessity for all those who lived in a desert and needed to preserve themselves.

In that preceding line, indented above, the word renounce also means something like forsake. I imagine if I forsook everything, I would perish rather quickly. But Jesus talks about a preservative as if renouncing everything was the only way to preserve ourselves.

And what if we should lose our preservative quality? That is, we should choose to be disciples but not renounce everything? Well then I think we are salt which loses its saltiness and we are of no use for either the soil or the dung heap.