When I was 10 years old, I began experimenting with baking and trying my hand at cooking. I was not experienced and certainly didn’t always have common sense to question my reading of the recipes I followed. The first thing I ever baked on my own was banana bread. I used my mother’s hand-written recipe and added each ingredient one at a time. I mashed up 3 bananas, added in the sugar, and added in 3 cups of flour. Next came the salt. However, there was no measurement for how much salt. I have come to know that that was my mother’s shorthand for a dash of salt. At the age of 10, I reasoned that that must mean to use the same measurement as the ingredient listed above it. Flour. So, I joyfully added in 3 cups of salt. Note there was no salt left in the house after this.
I was so proud of myself, I even invited my mother who was clipping coupons in the dining room to taste what I had made before I put it in the oven. She acquiesced and tasted it. I was expecting her to tell me it tasted as it should. Instead, her face contorted as she asked me how much salt I put into the recipe trying not to laugh at what had happened. She had just tried banana flavored playdough. When I told her there was 3 cups of salt in the recipe, she told me that if I am ever unsure to ask questions and that that much salt is only in a batch of playdough. Salt is meant to help with the chemical reactions in the recipe and to help draw out flavors. It is not meant to be the flavor.
I learned my lesson about baking and cooking, when it comes to salt. It is crucial but shouldn’t be the main ingredient. In the ancient world, salt was used as a way to flavor but also to preserve foods. It was a crucial ingredient and resource. It was used to preserve fish and meats. It was used to draw out the flavors in their vegetable, meat, and fish dishes that they cooked. It was used when they made their daily breads to help with the rising process. Our faith, the love of God that is present in our hearts, is to be like that salt. Crucial to life but not the only ingredient to life. God’s love should be there in the background guiding all that we do and our interactions in this world. But it can’t be the only thing. Vera Nazarian writes, “Neither sugar nor salt tastes particularly good by itself. Each is at its best when used to season other things. Love is the same way. Use it to ‘season’ people”.
Just as salt, our faith, our love for God, works best in combination with other aspects of the world around. Which means we need to be interacting with others, we need to be caring for the world, and placing ourselves in positions where we can be a part of the lives of others. This way we can season their lives, their world, with the love of God. We are not called to be overbearing with it just to have it silently working in the background. Jesus said, “Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another”. We are called to live into our faiths each day and to share it with the world simply by being at peace with one another.
We are called to put aside our desire to deal with people aggressively in favor of trying to use our love and faith to help better the lives of others around us, to change the focus in our world from judgment, hate, and violence to love, faith, and compassion. Our lives should be lived to help people find their way to God not to become the cause for which they avoid or turn away from God. When used right, our faith, our love, becomes the ingredient working in the background to help bring people to God. We want our faith, our example to be gently leading people to Christ not creating an inedible mass of play dough that no one wants around.
Our beliefs can either be used to help the world and better the lives of others one life at a time or they can be used in such a way as to leave an unsavory opinion of who we are as believers in this faith. We don’t want to tell people how to be in faith, how they need to believe, or that they are going to hell because they don’t believe. We want to show them that being a Christian is about love and acceptance. From there their hearts will be open to Christ and they will find their own way into a faithful relationship.
Let us go into this coming week and work to live into our faith in ways that show the love of Christ in our actions and in our words. Let’s live our faith so that we might bring flavor to the world and not turn people off by our pushiness or over zealousness. Let’s be the inspiration that gently guides the world to faith and into the love and compassion of God and away from the judgment, violence, and retribution that is all too common in our world. Let’s allow for God to be that guiding force in our daily lives bringing his peace to our communities, our personal lives, and to the greater world.
 Vera Nazarian, 21st century American Writer.
 Mark 9:50, NRSV.