Based on Today’s Readings: Mark 9:38-40;45;47-50
Whoever Is Not Against Us Is for Us
38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” 39 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us. 41 Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.
Causing to Stumble
42 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.  [a]45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.  [b]47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’[c]
49 Everyone will be salted with fire.
50 “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.”
Confused? I was when I first read this, but then it dawned on me that I had read a book many years ago titled “Salt – A World History” I am a geek and a nerd down deep, so for me to read a book instead of watch a movie it must be a real doozie of a book. This book taught me a lot about the only rock that we as humans eat, about the rock that used to be used as currency, and about the only rock that can be used as a preservative. I never really thought about how basic salt was to life. I admit, I took salt for granted, and you probably do too. Sure, I know that salt is in the food that I eat, and if the food isn’t tasty enough I will add a little bit of salt to enhance it and make it more palatable. Sure, I know that salt is an essential element for our bodies to continue to be healthy. Without enough salt in our diet we can suffer from any or all of the following symptoms – weakness, fatigue or low energy, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps or spasms, confusion, and irritability.
Sure, I know that salt has many purposes in our world. Salt melts snow in the winter so that we can drive on the roads and get where we need to be. Salt is a natural deodorizer, a drain opener, a cleaner, and an excellent weed preventer for your garden. But to tell you the truth, I never really thought about salt and all of its wonderful uses, it just was, it just is It is just one of those things in life we take for granted.
Why did Jesus need to say that we need to have salt within ourselves and why does Jesus need to warn us about salt losing its saltiness. I kept coming back to the text and saying, “Jesus no one wants a sermon on the properties of salt. That’s not a message that’s going to keep them coming back for more. Salt is boring. It’s just there. It is a part of life. No one wants a sermon on salt. What in the world does salt have to do with the Kingdom of God? Where is the good news in salt? Jesus couldn’t you come up with some better metaphors?”
We as churches and as people of faith are called to serve. We are called to be the salt of the earth, to be worthy servants of our God. We are called to see beyond boundaries and the lines that separate us and to see the things that unite us, our basic core elements: grace, peace, hope, love, welcoming and most importantly – service. Just like there are some basic elements that unite our bodies and give us life. That’s what Mark is talking about in our Scriptures today. He is inviting us as readers to put aside what divides us and celebrates us, our saltiness, our desire to serve, our desire to enhance the lives of others, our desire to preserve justice for all of God’s people, our abilities to flavor the bland existence of others with the seasonings of the Kingdom of God: Grace, peace, love, welcoming and service.
Mark is also reminding us that as people of faith, we lose our way sometimes, that our saltiness loses its ability to season, that our desire to serve sometimes stands in the way of the work of the Kingdom of God. And we have a responsibility to get back to the basics and renew, restore our purpose as the people of God. Mark tells us that when Jesus heard that the disciples stopped a man from healing just because this man was not a part of their group, he knew that he had to go back to basics. He had to break down the Kingdom of God into its core elements and remind the disciples of how these core elements make up a community of faith. Jesus knew that he had to go back to Chemistry 101 and remind his disciples of how the different elements are supposed to interact with each other and how the different elements of faith, grace, hope, peace, love and welcoming make up the Body of Christ. He knew that he had to get them to see what unites them, not what divides them. He knew that he had to get the disciples to recognize that they had forgotten their purpose and that their “saltiness” had lost its ability to season the Kingdom of God with grace, peace, hope, love, and welcoming.
Mark reminds his community and us today that these basic elements, grace, peace, love, hope, service and welcoming flavor the Kingdom of God. They add spice to our lives as believers. They enhance our experiences as people of faith here on earth. They add flavor to our lives as disciples of Christ. Mark reminds his community and us today that we are called to share the basic elements that make up the Body of Christ with all of God’s children. We are called to pass the salt down the table and let everyone sprinkle a little grace, peace, hope, love, service and welcoming on the feast of life that God has spread out before us.
Heavenly Father, help us that we may never lose our saltiness as people of faith. Help us to remember our purpose and what unites us as people of faith. Amen.
And for an entertaining read I recommend the following:
(and it is published by Penguin Books) go figure!!!!!