at the Crystal Cathedral we have school called the Crystal
Cathedral Academy for grades kindergarten through high school.
The principal of that academy happens to be my oldest sister,
who is 4 years older than me and her name is Mrs. Coleman.
Well, when we were young, my sister and I loved to play
tricks on my parents, especially on April Fools Day. One
of my favorite memories is when we decided to swap the sugar
and the salt. We got up extra early one April Fools Day,
before my mother headed for the kitchen to make breakfast,
and we put the salt in the sugar bowl, and the sugar in
the salt shaker. Then we proceeded to try and keep straight
faces as our parents came in for breakfast. Well, my father
sits down and, as usual, he grabs a teaspoon of sugar, puts
it in his cup of coffee, and he takes the salt shaker and
he puts it all over all of his wonderful eggs. We couldn't
help but start to laugh. As you can imagine, he gives us
both a strange look, asking us what was so funny, just as
he puts the coffee to his lips. Sure enough, one sip was
all it took and coffee comes spraying out of his mouth all
over the breakfast table. Needless to say, we laughed and
laughed, and pretty soon he began to laugh along with us.
remembered that story this week as I was preparing this
message because it is amazing how flavors impact us as people.
You expect a certain flavor in life, sugar to be sweet and
eggs to have a hint of salt. But when the reverse happens,
something feels wrong. Today, our message is about growing
spiritually so we can live that abundant life. Our text
comes from the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:13 where he says
in the Sermon on the Mount, "You
are the salt of the earth." Aren't those wonderful
words? "You are the salt
of the earth." Further on in His message He
refers to the impact of when "salt
loses its flavor," in one translation; and in
another translation He says, "If
salt loses its saltiness, it's good for nothing and is thrown
in the street and trampled by men."
are the salt of the earth." What do those words
mean? "You are the salt of the earth." Simply put, we
have been gifted by God to flavor this world in two ways;
first, to experience a more abundant life than we could
ever imagine ... and second, to create a good flavor in
the world around us, so that others might be attracted to
the abundant life that Christ wants everyone to share.
do we create this wonderful "flavor" in the world
around us? One way is through our actions - how we interact
with friends and family, and yes, even with strangers. One
of my brother-in-laws is an avid sports memorabilia collector.
Not long ago my son and I were in his home and my son happens
to be a big Wayne Gretzky fan. In looking through all of
this wonderful memorabilia, it didn't take long before my
son asked the question, "You wouldn't happen to have
any Wayne Gretzky autographed pucks, would you?" My
brother-in-law quickly proceeded to open a draw filled with
hockey pucks. There they were, all lined up neatly in rows
of eight or ten and then he said, "Let's see, I have
about twenty four. Would you like one?" Generosity
always leaves a good flavor doesn't it?
we talked about this, my brother-in-law began to tell my
son and I about one particular big-league baseball hitter,
whose name if I mentioned, you would all know. This hitter
was one of my brother-in-law's favorite players. In fact,
he'd collected his memorabilia for years, jerseys, bats,
home run balls, etc... One day my brother-in-law found himself
in a position after a major league ball game to get this
slugger's autograph. He waited patiently at the exit to
the stadium when the gentleman came out of the locker room
he said, "Excuse me sir, may I have your autograph
on this home run ball I have of yours?" The ball player
simply looked at him, sneered, and walked away. With that
my brother-in-law was so hurt from that "snub"
that he went home, gathered up all this player's memorabilia,
and proceeded to get rid of it.
flavor that we leave in people's mouths can be good, and
it can be bad. Likewise, as Christians, our actions also
leave certain flavors in people's mouths. How we act, and
react in different situations can leave the world a more
beautiful place, or not so beautiful. The choice is ours.
are the salt of the earth," Jesus says. We are
the flavoring of the world. What flavor will you leave as
you pass through?
I was preparing for this message and I found a website that
displayed all the different uses for salt. I never dreamed
there were so many uses for salt. The list when on and on
... far more than just flavoring for food. It can be used
for cleaning products, getting out stains in clothes with
vinegar, or cleaning coffee stains out of mugs. The list
was endless. But out of the thousands of things salt can
be used for, I boiled it down to three things.
salt flavors ...
salt purifies ...
thirdly, salt creates thirst.
we look at the abundant life God wants us to live, I see
how critically important it is for us to exemplify these
three qualities. We need to be flavorful, and hopefully
a good flavor, as we discussed earlier. Next we need to have
purity to have an abundant
life. Finally, we need to make the world a more beautiful
place and in so doing create a thirst in others to want
to discover this abundant living in Christ.
friend of mine went into a Chinese restaurant recently.
He was very cautious about his consumption of salt because
of high blood pressure, so he said to the waiter, "I
would like my Chinese food prepared without salt."
The waiter simply smiled and said, "Oh, the food is
not so good without salt."
a nice analogy because if we want to live the abundant life,
we need to add flavor, and we are the flavor. "You are the salt of the earth," Jesus said.
"So let you light shine before
men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father
in Heaven." (Matthew 5:16)
the world around you with a smile, a touch, a listening
ear to someone who is hurting. Be that bright light in a
dark world, and add that special flavor that is uniquely
leads us to our next point, which is that salt purifies.
It cleanses. As such, we are called by our Heavenly Father
to create a better place in this world. Author Timothy Brown
went to visit a leukemia patient, a young man who, because
of his illness, was confined to a plastic room, totally
isolated from others as leukemia destroys the immune system
to the point that simply catching a cold can kill you. So
he went to visit this young man and there he was, completely
isolated in his own little plastic room, where all you could
do was touch him with plastic gloves. As they talked, the
young man said to him that, "Life isn't like a VCR.
You can't fast forward past the bad parts - and God is in
every frame through the good and the bad." What amazing
depth of spiritual understanding from such a young person.
we deal with circumstances and troubles of life, we have
to remember that God is always there, purifying our hearts,
and even in the toughest of times, He is there with us ...
creating new vitality, new dreams, new visions of a more
positive world, and creating thirst.
Salt Creates Thirst
many years, as a child, I spent the summer on my uncle's
farm, and I remember asking the question, "What's that
big white block doing out in the pasture?"
that's a salt lick."
"A what?" I would say.
"It's a block of salt.
"You're kidding me."
"No, it's a block of salt. Taste it if you want."
it or not, I actually went out into that pasture and tasted
that salt lick. Can you believe I did that? My uncle went
on to explain that the salt block was there for the cows
to lick for two reasons ... one to give them the nutrients
they needed as salt is an essential element of life ...
but it was also there to create thirst. The cows would lick
the salt ... become thirsty ... then go and hydrate themselves
with water. This kept them from becoming dehydrated. Livestock
should not become dehydrated.
Christians, God calls us to be the light of the world so
that we might shine forth and create a thirst in others
to discover the Good News that we've found. When I think
about creating thirst, I think of the time when Jesus was
thirsty. He asked the woman at the well for a drink and
she replies, "You ask me, a Samaritan woman for a drink?"
Jesus says to her, "With the
water you drink from, you'll thirst again. But the water
I give you will well up within you and you'll never thirst
again." (John 4:14)
is the water of Jesus Christ. This is the water of the abundant
life that continues to fill our every need. When we trust
and have faith in Jesus Christ, we will never thirst again.
Thurman, the African American theologian, put it this way:
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself
what makes you come alive ... then go do what you've discovered,
because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
is not a luxury but a necessity. It is one of the essential
elements for living. And just as salt is essential for us
to function, so God is essential for us to function. Jesus
Christ said, "You are"
... not 'you can be' ... not 'you may be' ... not
'you might be' ... but ..."You ARE the salt of the earth."
as salt, you can remain in the container on the table, a
simple tabletop decoration ... or you can choose to become
the person that God has called you to be ... to create flavor in the world ... to
purify the world ... and then to create
a thirst for the kingdom of God.
I challenge you to stand up for Jesus Christ. Stand up and
be that shining example of God's love today.
heavenly Father, We thank You that we have been touched
by You. That You have given us Your Holy Spirit, that You
have empowered us, enabled us and equipped us to be the
salt of the earth. O God, help us not to simply be a table
decoration, but to flavor this world in such a way that
people might see Your good deeds and worship Your Father
in heaven. We give You our thanks, our glory, and our praise
today. Now go with us, strengthen us, and equip us, O God,
as Your children we pray. Amen.