Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” His audience were His Jewish disciples. It was, in a way, a reminder of Israel’s role in the world. God had raised up this nation and chosen them, out of all the nations in the world, so that, if it would keep His covenant and obey His voice, it would be His treasured possession and all the nations of the world would be blessed through her. But, when generation after generation of Israelites refused to keep God’s covenant and commandments, Israel consequently was “thrown out [of their land] and trampled under foot”.
Israel today has yet to be reconciled with their God. But the day will come when “all Israel will be saved.” What a blessing to the world that would be! But in the meantime, the nation and its people, the Jews, are being persecuted everywhere. This persecution has a name: Anti-Semitism. No one can exactly attribute the cause of this worldwide sentiment of anti-Semitism as the Jewish people had really done nothing wrong. On the contrary, they have made the most number of positive contributions to the various fields of science, medicine, technology, arts and education, and so on. So why are they hated by so many?
In an earlier verse, Jesus spoke to His disciples about persecution. “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me” (verse 11, italics added). But the Jewish people are not being persecuted because of Christ. So what are they being persecuted for? Their disobedience to God.
The Gentile Church has taken over the title of “salt of the earth” and “light of the world”, for now. Not because the Church has replaced Israel, but because it has been ingrafted into the natural Olive Tree, and therefore, share the same destiny and calling as Israel. The question is: Have we fared better than Israel and the Jewish people? I put it to you that the answer is ‘No!’. The world does not respect the Church nor listens to it. It scorns at our divided-ness and mocks at our hypocrisy. The church and its beliefs are no longer welcome in everyday life. While secularism rejects religious beliefs and practices, it rejects particularly Christian beliefs and practices. A Culture War, if there is even such a thing, is waging, and the Church is losing ground. As a case in point: “Merry Christmas” has been replaced by “Happy Holidays”. Like Israel, the Church is being “thrown out and trampled underfoot”. Christians are increasingly being persecuted around the world. For many of them, it is for the right reasons, and they are blessed for it. But The same cannot be said for the of the Church.