It is to be noted that the semantic parallel of “low-grade” with imbecile is far closer than might have been expected. (The Anchor Bible Commentary: Matthew by W. F. Albright and C. S. Mann. Page 55.)
That is, quite possibly, the funniest statement that I’ve ever read in a biblical commentary. Had I been enjoying a beverage whilst reading that statement, I would have soiled the book.
Albright and Mann have a quite different translation in their Anchor Bible Commentary than the NRSV of Matthew 5:13. The salt hasn’t “lost it’s saltiness,” but it’s “low-grade” salt. The Greek word here translated as “low-grade” is “moraino”.
Etymologically related to: moron. Imbecile.
Salt can’t “lose it’s saltiness.” There’s no “sell by” date on salt. It’s salt for goodness sakes.
But, salt can be diluted. Or it can be contaminated by other materials which make it taste bad.
And, if that’s the case, it’s time to throw the salt out. It’s useless. There’s no going back.
Jesus in in the opening stanzas of the Sermon on the Mount here, and he’s talking about us. “You are the salt of the earth” he proclaims to the disciples, and to us. Great things are expected of us, and great things can we do in the name of God and God’s Kingdom.
But, there is another way to go. We can do great things…or we can be morons.
This is literally Jesus’ big speech where he turns to his followers and tells them/ us not to be an embarrassment.
I love Bishop Michael Curry’s push to create more “crazy Christians.” I love the holy fools who throughout Christian history have given up their material goods, their freedom, and their lives to live out the values of the Kingdom.
But, there is a line, and if you cross it, you go from “crazy Christian” to imbecile pretty quickly. It’s hard to define where that line is…but we all know it when we see it. We all know it when we stand squarely on the other side of the line, and looking back we see Jesus standing there shaking his head. We all know it when we turn on the TV and another yay-hoo with “Rev.” in front of their name is proclaiming why this tornado or that hurricane struck a particular area.
So, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
But, quit being a moron.