After worshipping on Sunday, you head off with friends to a local café for a late breakfast. The waitress brings the requested cheese omelet, you fork off a bite, insert it, and it leaves you flat. Flat in taste--the chef forgot to add some salt before cooking. The waitress apologizes and says she’ll be sure the cook adds some salt, and soon returns it with a smile and another apology. The fork does its job, you take that first bite, and spit it out. Too much salt this time, too much to even eat. The lid must have come off the shaker, or the cook got offended and decided vengeance was his.
Yeah, a metaphor. But let’s extend it. When the waitress first apologized, did you grudgingly say OK, or give a gentle, “That’s fine. I’ve messed up often myself, and I appreciate God’s forgiveness.” If just the first, too little salt, perhaps?
And when the meal ended, instead of a decent tip did you stiff her and leave a Bible tract about loving Jesus? If the latter, too much salt, perhaps?
We walk a fine line. Jesus said “You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth” (Matthew 5:13, The Message). How can we appropriately share “the God-flavors of this earth”? How can we represent God accurately and enticingly? Or, how do we season our conversations? Let me share three tips.
First, be mindful. Be thoughtful and intentional in each encounter. Make it your goal to share God, if the opportunity arises, with grace.
Second, know your audience. Are they receptive or resistant or neutral? Do they have a relationship with Jesus, or run from it, are curious, or just don’t care? How do they know about God and the Bible?
Third, know yourself. Are you acting in love or frustration? Do you realize vengeance belongs to the Lord, and you want to help him? Do you accurately tell about Jesus? Not long ago I heard a sermon (not my home church, I was traveling) where the pastor gave an inaccurate view of forgiveness in the Old Covenant, and he lost a lot of credibility. Forgivable? Sure. But if I hear him again, I’ll check out carefully whatever he says.
Fourth, be subtle sometimes. If we write, particularly fiction or do films or songs, every story doesn’t need a conversion ending. Life doesn’t match that. And is your audience already believers who like confirmation, or unbelievers who need just enough salt to see God-flavors?
Remember, too much or too little salt rarely improves life.
Kick Starting the Application
How intentional are you about gently getting God into conversations? Do you have a couple of good phrases that are subtle but possible openers? What seems to work the best for you? If you don’t often share, why? Fear? Your faith is private? Do you take Jesus’ statement seriously that we are the salt of the earth? Do you lean to the too much or too little salt side?