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In my field of Communication Studies, we often talk about putting different ideas “in conversation with one another.” Today, I’m thinking about salt, and some metaphors that go along with it.
In Genesis 19, when angels come to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, they allow Lot’s family to escape. Lot, his wife, and his daughters are told to run away from the city, and not to look back. Lot’s wife looks back upon the burning city, and immediately turns into a pillar of salt.
Centuries later, we learn in Matthew 5 that Jesus told his followers that they are the salt of the earth. Salt is dispersed throughout a dish to enhance its flavor, can be used as a preservative, and is a mineral necessary to good health.
If we juxtapose these verses, one from the Old Testament, and one from the New, an interesting idea emerges. People of faith are called upon to mingle with others across the world, and we add something to the whole by our presence. But, if we spend our time looking back rather than moving forward, we can become frozen in place, and no good to anyone. A pillar of salt cannot season anything – it is inert, and useless.
When we dwell in the past, we miss important opportunities that we can only see if we are looking forward, not backward. And our value lies in relationship with others, which is an active, not passive, endeavor.
A pillar of salt serves no purpose. Let’s live purposeful lives.