<%image(20051011-salt.jpg|66|103|salt)%> The role of salt is to be salty and right in front of people, visible and available for their use. If a salt shaker decided that it was going to salt your food for you, the results would be disastrous. Perhaps the shaker would dump salt all over your baked beans, while missing the corn on the cob (where you would have put the salt if it had waited a minute). And if we can step past the ridiculousness of this scenario, including the autonomous salt shaker, we may be able to find what Jesus is getting at in Matthew 5:13-16.
First of all, he wants us to be distinct and holy, salty as only the Spirit of God can make us. His warning about losing our saltiness is an invitation to draw near to him and to become salty, for no one else can make us so.
Secondly, salt is to certainly be available and highly visible, hence the parallel concerning light. But availability is very different from being pushy and forcing our light and saltiness on others. We certainly want to be useful and to interact when appropriate, but we cannot force our own terms of interaction on others.
In carrying this metaphor a bit further, think of the times you have salted your food at the dinner table. While some are more apt to sprinkle it on their food, I will rarely add salt to something unless someone suggests it or has tried it and found it to be tasty. The salt shaker may lie untouched by me for a week sometimes, but as long as it stays salty, I’ll eventually get around to using it and enjoying it.
13″You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
14″You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;
15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.
16″Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.