“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.” Mark 9:50
What salt is Jesus discussing here? It could refer to so many areas of our Christian influence.
But I think the clue here is that this verse ends with “be at peace with each other.” In Mark 9 the disciples are arguing about healing the demon possessed boy. They argue about who is the greatest. Then they try to stop someone from driving out demons in the name of Jesus.
The disciples promote dissension. They may not mean to incite negativity, but that is what happens.
So Jesus tells them to have salt among themselves. They need to have a preservative affect, not a corrosive one.
Peace is very powerful. Think of what Jesus said in John 17:21-24
I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
I love what the Pulpit Commentary says about this verse, even if it uses old timey language —
“Do not be idly contending about place or position, as not long ago you were disputing (ver. 33). Our Lord foresaw that this kind of contention, these rivalries, and these ambitious aims, would prove a great scandal and a great hindrance to the progress of his Church in the future ages of the world. But he also knew that if his disciples in every ago would endeavor to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” their influence would be irresistible, and they would draw all men to them and to himself, the great Centre of attraction.”
If we will but keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
I have found this is VERY HARD. My low self esteem can cause me to feel negative towards people who unknowingly provoke my insecurities. I worry whether they will think badly about me and so I get anger in my heart about them. Also, I constantly rank people. I pick at their weaknesses. This doesn’t promote unity or peace at all.
If it is hard for me, how hard it is for all of us. There are so many individuals who get tangled up in an attitude with someone. It’s like a poison that spreads.I’ve seen churches split. I’ve seen churches that can’t find a way to come back together.
And do you know what else is a hindrance to peace? Will worship. I am finding it is a great snare to me.
What is will worship? It’s also translated self made religion or self-imposed worship:
Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
I get overly focused on what I am supposed to be doing, and it becomes all about me. I think I am worshiping God, but I am actually worshiping myself and how “awesome” I am at following God.
Here’s what Richard Foster said about this in “Celebration of Disciplines,” “Isn’t it ironic that Paul looks at the most strenuous efforts in the spiritual walk and calls them ‘will worship?’”
I can work so hard, but it can be for the wrong reasons.
And it doesn’t promote peace because it makes me want to impose my same rigid standards on others.
If only we can see that we don’t need to live that way! As it says earlier in Colossians 2 —
God made you alive with Christ when he forgave all our failures. He did this by erasing the charges that were brought against us by the written laws God had established. He took the charges away by nailing them to the cross. Col 2:13b-14
The charges are taken away. We can live at peace with ourselves and others.
And our peace will be powerful. A gentle word turns away wrath. A lamb that is led to the slaughter without opening its mouth saves the world.
Let’s be that kind of leavening influence today. It will be hard. It will involve turning the other cheek and loving enemies. But it is the ONLY way, and the only hope for us to be unified, and thus impact others.
Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:18
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matt 5:9