AGENTS OF CHANGE
Change is seldom easy, and Jesus knew this. While addressing the cost of being a true disciple, He shared an illustration about salt. "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” (Lk. 14:34). Jesus knew that the changes that were needed could not be legislated. He sought to develop a new kind of disciple to help pave the way. They were to become agents of change. He worked to set into action a new set of values and for this to happen He needed to prepare the disciples for a new way of thinking and living. He led the way. The challenge of values continues today. This issue of the Dynamic Steward is about “Stewards of Influence” and salt is an insightful metaphor for agents of change.
The verses leading to the salt illustration make it clear that Jesus sought to influence, and bring about a change, in the values cherished by the disciples. Later their own words indicated that He had been successful when they admitted that they had something more valuable than “silver and gold” to offer (Acts 3:6). Their encounter with Jesus changed their orientation, their priorities and, certainly, their worldview. The context of the salt illustration was all about being willing to sacrifice, but it hardly seemed sacrificial to them now. They had learned the same values that helped Christ withstand His wilderness temptations (Lk. 4). Power, recognition, success and comfort were not the decision-makers for Him. Jesus made it clear that there were only two things that really mattered in His life—God and people. He was willing to endure hardships so that God and people might be honored, even if it created a disadvantage for Himself. He came as a servant for both, and this put Him at odds with the Pharisees in at least three ways.
Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?"
First, while the Pharisees focused on oral traditions regarding purification, Jesus focused on the “more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness” (Mt. 23:23). Secondly, though Jesus was active in Sabbath services, religious activity was no substitute for demonstrating that everyone is someone to God, regardless of how society or culture might see them. A third distinctive value that was evident in the life of Jesus was that, by coming to Him, all would be treated like royalty. He treated everyone who was willing to listen, as if they had untapped potential. Despite His holiness, sinners of all types were drawn to Him.
The influence of Jesus changed lives and gave hope, not only to those in His generation, but to ours as well. Being fashioned by Jesus into His image is radical. Without this departure from conventional values, the Pharisees were not only without personal peace, but also without a message to share. Jesus sought to change this, and to do so, He called and prepared a corps of disciples to become agents of change. Salt does very little in isolation. Salt serves, salt enhances, salt preserves but salt’s purpose is always found in relationship with something or someone. Influence comes not from a desire to be “influential” but from what one is and is becoming. Biblical stewards become stewards of influence because two things matter to them: God and people. It is then that salt becomes flavourful.