Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Salt and Salvation
Over at Ochlophobist's blog there is an amazing post and subsequent discussion in the combox of Lot's Wife, Marah, who you may recall was turned into a pillar of salt when she turned and looked back to Sodom when she, her husband and children fled the wrath of God poured out upon it. This excerpt from Orthodox poet Scott Cairns is part of the post:
Unlike her husband - coward and sycophant - the woman remained faithful unto death. For even as the man fled the horrors of a city's conflagration, outrunning Marah and both girls as they all rushed into the desert, the woman stopped. She looked ahead briefly to the flat expanse, seeing her tall daughters, whose strong legs and churning arms were taking them safely to the hills; she saw, farther ahead, the old man whom she had served and comforted for twenty years. In the impossible interval where she stood, Marah saw that she could not turn her back on even one doomed child of the city, but must turn her back instead upon the saved.
I have always believed that, it I were running from Sodom, I too would be a pillar of salt by virtue of my disobedience. I am too easily compassionate, too soft hearted to turn away from even well deserved suffering, too willing to question God's judgment in light of what I know of human frailty and the sheer injustices of merely existing. I would have looked back, perhaps not longingly, perhaps to see if anyone else was following, but at least for sorrow's sake. Perhaps God forbade them to look back because His wrath should not be told by firsthand witnesses. Perhaps His wrath is much like His third heaven that the Apostle Paul could not speak of after his taking up and return to earth. But even if he could not speak of it, the Apostle became salt.
The simple and plain version of Marah is "she disobeyed God, she was killed by God in a strange way for it; therefore, do not disobey." The more difficult version is, "You are the salt of the earth..."
Who is the "salt of the earth"? Is it not sinners who have been incomprehensibly loved by a God who could not look away from the utter ungodliness of His own city? The unsalted blandness of the bread of religious righteousness does not fill the hunger for God. Self preserving flight does not quench the thirst for Love that risks all for the sake of the beloved.
How does one become salt? We are believers and followers of a God who could only run so far from the sins of Sodom. He ran no farther than the Cross upon which He was lifted up so He could see all clearly, and so all could see Him. We are followers of a God who looked back. We follow a God who runs not away from, but to the Prodigals. We follow a God who came to us, and became our flesh assaulted by passions and desires and futility because He looked back on us and we were not following. Our God is not foreshadowed by the Righteous Lot.
Perhaps Marah stands between the Sinners and the Righteous Lot as an evangelist to both. She is salt to both Sodom and Lot. She is the foreshadowing of The Evangelist, who is both God and Man, who looked, and then died for the both the righteous and the unrighteous. This is the Gospel. Do we dare to look?