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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Confession: I Might be a Little Bit Salty

Don't bother to look it up in an urban dictionary, because you will come up with all kinds of inappropriate definitions.

Here's a cleaned up version...

Salty: angry, agitated, or upset, because you feel out of place 

Scripture is at least moderately confusing when it comes to salt. If you don't believe me, just read Mark 9:49-50... slowly... maybe a couple of times...

"Everyone will be salted with fire. 'Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other'" (NIV). 

"Everyone will be salted with fire..."

Scripture is also at least moderately confusing when it comes to fire, but that's a post for another day. Really. I promise. But to be salted with fire? It doesn't sound too appealing, does it? It sounds sort of like being pelted with fire... sort of like running for your life as someone spits fireballs at you. If you're as coordinated as I am, that's got to hurt, right? Because there's just no way you dodge them all. To be salted with fire must leave burns... pain... scars...

But, "Salt is good..."

Salt brings out flavor...

I've even read that salt brings balance to multiple body systems... controls blood sugar... helps with sleep... can reduce allergic reactions...

And yet, I couldn't help but think of the phrase, "It's like rubbing salt into a wound"... salt creates more pain... it exploits our weaknesses... it hurts!

I think the Israelites understood...

Exodus 5:7-9, "You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ Make the work harder for the people so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies" (NIV). 

It seems to me, in this passage, that Pharaoh rubs salt into their wounds. They're already slaves. Now, they must complete the assigned labor without the things they need. And even though "the people scattered all over Egypt to gather stubble to use for straw," (v.12) they were labeled "lazy". Their work increased, and their ability to focus on worship was essentially extinguished, because they no longer had the ability to meet their basic needs.

Remember Maslow? He was onto something. We often don't want to discuss it in faith communities, but the truth is that people who don't know where their next meal is coming from... people who don't feel safe... they can't move beyond this. It becomes consuming. The Israelites wanted to go and sacrifice to their God, but they couldn't, because the stubble they needed for straw... to make the bricks... to stay alive... took precedence.

When you insist that people scrape together their own straw, just to survive, it adds salt to the wound. All they can think about is the straw, even though they are created for worship. All they can think about is the wound, even though they are created for healing. It's an ugly cycle...

Except... I just read that although adding salt to a wound increases the pain (sometimes exponentially); it's just temporary. The irony is that the salt actually causes the skin to heal faster. Is the exchange worth it? I don't know yet. I'm still at the pouring salt into a wound stage. I'm just about ready to start scraping for straw. I'll let you know how it turns out.

I know one thing for sure, though. Jesus' words are clear that we are to be salt... to have salt among us... and to live at peace. I feel as if that's impossible until I consider how salty stuff simultaneously brings pain and healing. Maybe there's a place for salty people, after all...

L.

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