REAL BREAD: The Parable of the Salt
“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” . . . Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:27, 35)
It was Saturday morning, and wedding preparations were in high gear. Kevin’s daughter and her fiance were arriving that afternoon, their wedding a week away. With lots of family coming, I’d been cooking to feed the 5,000. That morning, I woke up with one goal: to get to the market early and pick up some Hunter Brothers corn for the lovebirds’ supper.
After that and other errands, I got home at noon. Lunch over, I decided to make some bread. It wasn’t on my to-do list, but fresh bread would be so good with the corn. As I stood kneading, I realized I’d missed my usual early-morning Scripture and prayer time. After I set the dough to rise, I starting making chocolate chip cookies, which were on my to-do list. As I was adding the salt, it hit me: I hadn’t put any salt in the bread.
Did you know that you can knead salt into bread dough after it’s risen the first time? It looks funny after it’s cooked – there are little white speckles all over the crust like tiny white chicken pox – and it doesn’t taste as good as usual, but it’s edible.
The next morning, I read the Scriptures I should have read the day before. My first reading was from Leviticus, Ch. 2: “Season every presentation of your grain-offering with salt. Don’t leave the salt of the covenant with your God out of your grain-offerings. Present all your grain-offerings with salt.”
Ouch!! In case I was in any doubt, God was clearly showing me that communion with Him is the salt of the life I offer Him. If I claim to give Him my day but don’t spend time with Him, it’s like bread without salt – absolutely without flavor or appeal, an offering not acceptable to God.
Many years ago, I made a covenant with God to spend time with Him each morning reading and meditating on His Word, talking with Him and listening for His response. My intention then, as now, is to put God first, to be taught and filled and prepared to discern His will and empowered to do it. But on that Saturday, I let God slip into the nether regions of my priority list. I was focused on producing food that would spoil instead of working for food that endures to eternal life.
For the Israelites, the grain offering was an act of worship, symbolizing the dedication of the fruit of the giver’s labor to God. The fruit of my labor was flawed because I left out the salt of God’s presence when I assembled the ingredients on my day.
Just as I was able to inject some seasoning into my bread half-way through, it’s possible to redeem part of the day by including God later. But, like the bread, the result is only partly satisfactory. It’s just not possible to get the full flavor unless the God-salt is added first and mixed in thoroughly.
“You are the salt of the earth,” Jesus said. “But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out . . .”
Salt purifies. It cleanses and heals. God’s Word, His presence, His voice, His Spirit – all these are the salt I need every day in a godless world. If I neglect these things, I’m in danger of losing my saltiness – of being so diluted or polluted that I’m spiritually compromised.
Salt preserves. It keeps things from spoiling. My daily portion of God-salt ensures I maintain my relationship with God and keep what He’s already taught me.
Salt adds zest. It gives a pleasing flavor to what would otherwise be tasteless. Without infusions of God-salt, I will have a Christian witness as bland and unappetizing as unsalted bread. Paul told the Colossians to “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt.” If I haven’t salted my heart with God’s Word and God’s way and God’s wisdom, I can’t use these to season my relationships with others.
In teaching what discipleship really involves, Jesus said no one can be His disciple unless they love Him more and everyone and everything else less. (Luke 14:26). The words disciple and discipline both come from the Latin word meaning “to learn.” When I don’t discipline myself to put God first, I’m loving the world more and Him less. “Have salt in yourselves,” Jesus said, “and be at peace with each other.”
I want to have salt in myself – God-salt. I want to preserve my relationship with Him. I want the zest of the joy that only Christ can give to overflow to everyone I meet. I want to offer myself first and my labor second.
I don’t want to make any more bread without salt. I want to savor the flavor of Jesus, the real bread that gives real life.