Salt and Sandcastles

Jesus told us we are salt and light. I guess I kind of understood the light part, that seemed fairly clear and easy to understand… but the salt? I assumed that had something to do with it's flavouring properties. 
Luke 14:34-35 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.”
The soil and the manure pile? Why didn't he mention anything about food?  
I realised I needed to learn about what salt was so important for on that soil and manure pile in Jesus's time. After listening to some teaching on salt 2000 years ago, it turns out that salt was not only for flavouring food, it was also a fertiliser and a disinfectant! It was scraped up from the shores of the Dead Sea, which was very salty. It's not pure Sodium-Chloride, it was a mixture of different salts, one being Potassium-Chloride. Gardeners and fruit-growers needed fertiliser that contained Potassium Chloride, or “Pot-ash”, to develop the flowers and fruit of a plant or tree. The salt scraped up from the Dead Sea was widely used as a fertiliser because of its Pot-ash. My husband David told me that his brothers use Pot-ash to develop the persimmons on their trees!
Here's what I learned about the manure pile: in those days there were no toilets as we know them. When you needed to “do your business”, you went down to the bottom of the garden where there was a heap of dirt where you emptied your bowels, and beside the heap was a box of salt from the Dead Sea, which you put on your “pile” to disinfect it. Kinda gross… but it dealt with things you didn't want to grow: disease, bacteria etc. Wow! Salt both promoted things we wanted to grow, and prevented things from growing that we didn't want to grow! How did it do that? Just by being salt I guess.
But then, how can Sodium-Chloride lose its saltiness? Jesus said that it can, so what did he mean? Apparently, it could only lose its saltiness if it was “adulterated” with other substances… in Jesus' time, sometimes men would scrape the salt up with sand and sell it at the marketplace. Any house-wife in those days who bought adulterated salt could only throw it out on the street to be trampled underfoot. It was useless.
We live near a beach, and our kids love to go there and dig around in the sand! They love to make sandcastles and decorate them with pretty shells and sticks and leaves. Inevitably, their sandcastles get stepped on (usually by one of their brothers!), or washed away by the tide. I started thinking, as I do, about salt and sand. All that beautiful salt on the shores of the Dead Sea, lying on top of all that sand. I imagined my kids going to those shores with their beach toys. They start to scrape up the salt and the sand together, and build it into a lovely sandcastle. They decorate it with pretty objects, and we all admire it and tell them what a lovely sandcastle it is. Then, when the weather comes, it gets demolished, not because it was the weathers fault, but because it couldn't stand up to the elements. Or maybe someone comes and kicks it over, on purpose…
Then I really got thinking… are we sometimes, as Christians, busy building sandcastles when we're supposed to be being salt? Sure, the sandcastle has some salt in it, isn't that good enough? But what if the sand we're adding to the salt is rendering us… useless? What if our church buildings, big budgets, fancy sound systems, entertaining services, are becoming sand in a sandcastle that we're busy building and decorating? Maybe not always, but it seems to be a trap we can easily fall into. If the power went out, could we still worship God in spirit and in truth? 
Are we making “church” a Building or a Bubble, instead of being the Bride and the Body we were meant to be? Are we spending our time “making” instead of “being”?
I guess we can make sandcastles out of a lot of things as Christians… our homes, our churches, our lifestyles, our kids' education and success, our politics, our social justice causes, our careers. Things that are good, but if it's not all salty, can turn sandy. Or maybe we're not really building anything… but we're just mixing sand in with our salt. Sometimes I realise I have just the same worries, the same reactions, the same attitudes, the same habits, the same ambitions, the same hang-ups, as people living without Christ. It's so easy to start mixing the sand from the world into our lives, and before we know it, we've lost the power, love and holiness of the salt that Jesus told us we were to be in a dirty world. We've compromised, and then, we're useless… both as a fertiliser and as a disinfectant. 
But hey, there's still some salt in our sandcastle, right? Isn't that enough? Lots of people admire it and I'm happy building it… that's ok, right?
Then one day… the weather comes. Jesus said it would in the parable of the foolish man who built his house on the sand (Matthew 7:24-27). Trials come, suffering comes, temptation comes, and the sandcastle collapses. The sand is exposed for what it really is. Or maybe… someone comes and kicks our sandcastle over, on purpose… 
I know someone who has kicked some sandcastles in my life… his name is Jesus. Sometimes he has used my husband, sometimes a friend, sometimes even a stranger. He kicked them while they were still small, thank goodness! I hadn't had much time to decorate them yet! I was mad at him at the time… but then he reminded me that this sandcastle-building was getting in the way of what he really wanted me to do… just “be” salt. 
Please Jesus, keep kicking my sandcastles, and please kick them while they're still small…

Psalm 127:1 “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.