Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other. (Mark 9:50)
It was a recipe for Armageddon. In the middle of the twentieth century, the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a dangerous military, political, and economic rivalry. Each nation developed and stockpiled increasingly deadly nuclear weapons. In 1962, the two sides came within a hair’s breadth of using those weapons during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Sobered by the nuclear showdown they’d so narrowly avoided, American and Soviet leaders started to make efforts to ease the tensions between their countries. They spent the 1970s pursuing Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, also known by the acronym SALT.
That acronym fit perfectly. For thousands of years and across societies, salt has been useful as a preservative as well as a flavor enhancer. In the same way, the US-Soviet talks had the goal of preserving the peace and enhancing each nation’s welfare.
Long before the Cold War, Jesus’ disciples had been locked in rivalry over which of them was the greatest (see Mark 9:33–34) and who counted as part of Jesus’ in-group (see Mark 9:38). But he responded to their feuding by challenging them to be like salt: preserving the peace and enhancing life rather than spoiling it with self-serving strife. That same challenge still applies to Jesus’ followers today, whatever our national or political background. Instead of passing each other up or passing the blame, pass the salt!
When you have the chance to make trouble, make peace.
Jerome Van Kuiken is a missionary kid, a pastor’s kid, and dean of the school of ministry and Christian thought at Oklahoma Wesleyan University.
© 2020 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.