The Church is typically able to set standards for worship, morality, and compassion that certainly remind people how we’re to do life. But even then, these values tend to get locked up in the four walls of the buildings in which we gather, instead of actually influencing the value system of the cities we live in. While this is good in part, it falls short of the intention of the Lord when He stated that we are the “salt of the earth.”
Salt in Jesus’ illustration is about adding flavor to a community in the same way salt is used to enhance the flavor of a meal. Consider the profound effect Jesus speaks of in this metaphor. We are added to the meal, implying we are not the whole meal. The Church tends to think that we are complete, and the city needs us. While that has merit, it’s truer to say that we are to be added to what already exists by God’s design. Another way to express the same concept is to say that the whole Church is in the Kingdom, but the whole Kingdom isn’t in the Church. He works profoundly through people who do not yet know Him. We demonstrate wisdom when we recognize that simple fact and honor them accordingly.
The way we typically apply the principle of our being the salt of the earth would be seen by our unscrewing the lid of the salt shaker and pouring all the contents on the corner of the plate. That illustrates our desire to stay together. As long as our flavor (influence) is only experienced by other believers, we have little influence outside of the church. And while we must not forsake the corporate gathering with others in the faith, our ability to bring influence to our surroundings comes when we become evenly sprinkled over the whole meal (our community.) In other words, our time together is to equip us for our influence in the community when we’re not together.