by Kelsey Knobloch
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16
I love slang, especially high school slang. There’s a word for everything, and they change so quickly that you lose track if you’re not living in it. I still like to think I’m somewhat up with the times, but without a direct connection to ‘kids these days,’ I’m slow on the uptake with the words they’re using. My slang lexicon becomes less and less complete as each day passes. I follow some people on social media that are younger, but as they grow up I lose the connection through them as well. Besides, watching Instagram stories and scrolling through Tik Tok can only get you so far.
I say that to say this: I don’t know if anyone uses the term ‘salty’ anymore. I can remember when it first became a thing that people said. What I couldn’t pick up about its meaning from context clues, the high school youth I worked with were kind enough to explain. (For any uninitiated, ‘salty’ is used to describe someone that’s angry, typically over some minor inconvenience.) I’m not really sure why it came into being; theories abound, but, as with most slang, no one can really track it down. It’s been used in this way since at least the 1930s. But I know that people have been salty for thousands of years.
In Matthew 5:13, Jesus tells His followers “you are the salt of the earth.” Even just back of the envelope calculations put that at just shy of 2000 years ago. Obviously Jesus doesn’t mean that we’re all upset over little things; words do change (at least a bit) in that period of time. This meaning of salt, however, still hasn’t gone out of style. Jesus’ words and guidance remain just as relevant today as they did back then. We as His followers continue to be the salt of the earth. We never stopped being salty. Salt provides flavor. It takes something normal, something a little bland, something that needs a little je ne sais quoi, and elevates it. It makes everything a bit better. As the salt of the earth, that’s what we need to be doing.
The question here is not how to be the salt of the earth. You already are. The question is how you can be as salty as possible. Said another way, you shouldn’t be asking how to be a witness to others. You are already a witness, whether you realize it or not. Everything you do and every word you speak makes an impact on those around you. Your witness as a Christian is constant. Your life on this earth is a perpetual witness, a perpetual state of saltiness. But how can you be even more salty, an even better witness?
Science tells us that there’s no way we can remember everyone we see and interact with. Estimates on the number of faces we can remember vary from 150 to 5,000 to 10,000. But even 10,000 is a drop in the bucket of the 7.56 billion people on Earth. If we can’t even be remembered by the fraction of people we interact with, how exactly are we supposed to be witnesses for Christ? It comes down to salt.
Like I said earlier, salt takes something bland and makes it just a little better. It elevates things. You can do the same for the people you interact with. A smile to the cashier behind that plexiglass screen. Actually listening to the answer after you automatically ask “how are you?” Being patient with the customer service representative on the other end of the line, even though they’re the ones that messed up your bill. The little, everyday interactions are elevated when you add in a dash of Christian love. By being the “salty” Jesus says we are, and avoiding the slang “salty,” we live out our faith and witness to others without even trying. You have no way of knowing how God will use your actions, as small as they may seem, to make a difference in His larger plan.
I don’t want to suggest this process is easy. Heaven knows that, despite my best efforts, I lose my cool as much (if not more than) anyone else. But part of our joy in Christ is knowing that our lack of perfection is made up for in His perfect sacrifice. Even when we mumble and brush past that person that was walking so slow and taking up the entire sidewalk, missing our chance to be salt, God’s love still covers us. Martin Luther used the Latin phrase “simul justus et peccator,” or “simultaneously saint and sinner” to describe this juxtaposition. Even when we fail to live up to being salt in the lives of others, our salvation remains secure.
We’re witnesses whether we want to be or not. The goal is to be the best witness possible. Show care, and love, and kindness. Be salty.