“You are the salt of the earth…” (Matthew 5:13)
I wasn’t born yet when the TV program “I Love Lucy” first aired, but I did watch reruns after school. One of the episodes sticks in my mind: Vitameatavegamin!
Lucy connives her way into performing in a commercial for the fictitious health tonic. On camera, she reads the script: “Are you tired, run down, listless? Do you poop out at parties? The answer to all your problems is in this little bottle. Vitameatavegamin contains vitamins, meat, vegetables and minerals. So why don’t you join the thousands of peppy people and get a bottle of Vitameatavegamin. It’s tasty, too.”
Then she takes a spoonful for the first time and … it tastes awful. She makes a very “Lucy” face!
“Just like candy.”
Lucy makes it through a few more takes, gagging down the Vitameatavegamin. Take after take, the tonic goes own easier. That’s because the alcohol content is 23 percent! (It says so right on the bottle!) Lucy soon is tipsy, slurring her words and making a fool of herself. Well, she’s used to that last part.
Vitameatavegamin is a bit like salt. Salt is essential for animal life – just like vitamins, vegetables and minerals! It doesn’t taste very good by itself. And if you ingest too much, you’ll have all kinds of problems.
Salt is worth nothing unless it is applied to something else – whether for preserving or seasoning. Christians play the role of “salt of the earth” by applying ourselves to preserve what is good in the world and season what is bland.
When Jesus tells his disciples that they are the “salt of the earth,” he also warns them not to lose their “saltiness.” But he says nothing about being TOO salty. So perhaps we are meant to err on the side of overly preserving and seasoning, rather than to hang back and worry that we do too much. We shouldn’t worry about being TOO salty, about making a fool of ourselves. It’s worth it to take part in building the Kingdom of God. Just like candy.
In Christ’s Peace,