“You are the salt of the earth…”

This statement from Jesus is intended to give us direction, to help us understand our role in this world since “that which is perfect has come”. Few will disagree with what was just said. However we do see dramatically conflicting interpretations of how this lives out.

These opposing views begin when we determined which of salt’s two primary functions we’re going to emulate or follow. Are we going to apply salt to enhance the flavor or to act as a preservative? Most of us are taught to be the preservative spending much of our lives fighting to maintain things we can’t even be sure of, unaware that what we are stubbornly trying to preserve is the very thing Jesus came to transform.

Here’s the opening quote with the dots filled in, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” And another, “Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.”

It’s quite clear that flavor is the attribute Jesus is suggesting for our “Salt”. And I’m certain that the essence or seasoning we are to provide is love.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.”

That which is perfect is love; that which is perfect is Jesus. We need not operate out of fear or tradition. Love never fails!

This article on Casual Christianity in The Washington Post is interesting. I relate to the “joyful minority” thought near the end.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before. Oh sure I’ve heard “Jesus is God” my whole life but never “God is Jesus” and lately I’ve been wondering why. My conclusion is that “Jesus is God” leaves us a whole lot more room to make god in our image. We can fall back on thousands of years of misconceptions, hold  to misunderstood traditions and discount the very teachings of Christ by thinking Him to be just some portion of God that we can’t really understand.

Jesus said, “When you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father.” And I think he meant it quite literally. One of (if not the) primary reasons for God becoming one of us was to show us who He truly is and to put to rest our wrong notions of Him. It’s very sad how soon we went back them and created a good God/bad God rationalization. If you want to know God you need look no further than Jesus. He is the One and only God in totality.

Religion is what you do for God that everyone can see. Faith (trust) is how you live with God when no one is watching or keeping score.

A life focused on sin, especially other people’s, is a life eclipsed by death. A life focused on love, especially to those that are different, is a life lived to its fullest.

The worst mistake anyone can make is to perceive anyone else as lesser. – Andrew Solomon

Jesus said, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing.”

Why is one of Christianity’s most conspicuous characteristics superiority?

Love is a choice, it must be freely pursued. Love is also selfless; it does not seek its own. Therefore, how and why are much more relevant to our conversation on love and obligation than what or when. I guess it doesn’t matter what we call it: duty, obligation or even expectation as long as the motivation is love. I freely choose to love and am willing to take whatever may come with it. Lastly we can’t forget the sacrificial aspect of true love, choosing to surrender.

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and quite frankly this year more than any other it has me very anxious. I’m just beginning to understand that the reason for my anxiety is the obligation that’s attached. The expectations are completely external yet so effective they couldn’t be more personal. So here’s my question: Can love and obligation peacefully coexist? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The key word here for me is peacefully, as that’s certainly not what I’ve been experiencing which causes me to think the answer is probably no. Bound is an important element of understanding obligation. And freedom is a huge part of my understanding of love. I know we are “bound together…” but also “love knows no bounds” all that to say, I’d love to hear your take on this question along with any thoughts you have on this “holiday”.

Ideally I want every day to be a gift to those I love and maybe I’m just feeling resentment that others are telling me when I need to step it up.

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside,…

This portion of scripture has so much to consider. It came to mind after reading this post by John Pavlovitz. He has some great thoughts concerning faith, trust and doubt which I wholeheartedly agree we all struggle with. The question that led me to this scripture “Is doubt inevitable and unavoidable?” gets answered, “Yes.” But another query is, “Does it always have to be like this or is it possible to decrease doubt and increase trust or faith?” I think there is much reason for hope here. Scripture supports growing trust, history is filled with examples and chances are you can look back on your life and name any number of areas where trust has replaced doubt.

We can and should encourage each other with this hope but never from a position of superiority. We can’t forget our times of question and doubt or think for a moment that we won’t be faced with more. We are all completely unique and in personal relationships with God whether we know it or not. Diminishing others because their faith doesn’t measure up is as wrong as wrong can be.

It seems to me the more our trust increases; the less important it is for us to be right, the more compassion and understanding we have for everyone, the less afraid we are of questions and the more equipped we are to share God’s love without strings or hoops.

Other thoughts on this passage: It begins and ends with love, always has, always will. Taught by God, we should never abdicate our personal relationship with God to anyone especially those that claim spiritual authority, apostleship, anointedness or asks you to be accountable to them. Increase more and more, there is always more of Him, we will never exhaust Him, there is and will always be more of Him to be understood and known. Lead a quiet life, mind your own business, and work with your own hands , For me these bring about many questions about what we see in so much of modern “Christianity”. Walk properly toward those who are outside, oh my.

Jesus said, “Follow Me” many times. What do you suppose He meant? I ask because it seems like we’ve decided He meant for us to get others to follow us. This is far from His intent as He warns in Matthew 23:15, “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You go halfway around the world to make a convert, but once you get him you make him into a replica of yourselves, double-damned.”

Our desire should always be to draw others to Jesus using only the implement of love. His love, the very love that filled your heart should be shared or taught without religious baggage and devoid of go-betweens. “Make disciples” is better read, “Teach (share) My love”.