The Harshness of Jesus and Good-For-Nothing Christians

A lot of times when we think or talk about Jesus, we focus on aspects of His character like compassion, love, understanding, and tenderness. And Jesus certainly possessed all of those qualities, but at the same time, Jesus had no difficulty being blunt when He needed to be and saying exactly what needed to be said.

The Sermon on the Mount is a great example of some very demanding statements that Jesus makes, some of which trampled all over the toes of His audience. One of Jesus’ more famous statements occurs in Matthew 5.13:

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”

Telling people how citizens of the Kingdom should live, Jesus uses an absurd metaphor with a harsh implication.

First, the absurdity: can you imagine sitting down at a restaurant with a plate of bland food and reaching for the salt only to discover that the salt had lost its flavor and was itself completely tasteless? Of course not: salt is inherently salty; it cannot be anything else. In the same way, it is absurd for someone to claim to be a Christian, and yet not “taste” anything like Christ.

And the harshness: did you catch what Jesus said about salt that had lost its taste? He said it was worthless and ought to be thrown out. So while it is absurd to have someone who claims to be a Christian but fails to exhibit the character of Christ, if that absurdity actually happens (and it does, all the time), then those “Christians” are worthless. Ouch.

It is very tempting for me to soften the words I just typed, but I’m not going to, because Jesus certainly didn’t soften them in His mountain sermon. These words, which come right at the beginning of that sermon, are serious and weighty, and they provide sobering reminders for those of us who claim to be disciples of Jesus: it is absurd for us to call ourselves Christians and then fail to resemble Him in our lives, and if we do that, we are “no longer good for anything.”

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Luke Dockery serves as the Associate Minister for the Farmington Church of Christ in Northwest Arkansas and is also a student at Harding School of Theology, where he is pursuing a Master of Divinity degree. Luke loves teenagers and is devoted to helping them come to deep and mature faith in Jesus Christ. He and his wife, Caroline, have been married since 2006, and they have two young children, Kinsley and Seth. In his free time, Luke enjoys spending time with his family, reading, playing ultimate frisbee, and cheering for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

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