The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

24 April 2014

Of symbols and substance

Those are four significant Christian symbols, once recognized - and their meanings - universally understood. They were a shorthand, as all symbols are. Say the word and the subtext is filled in by the listener or reader.  “Be like salt of the earth and a light to the world.”  Salt gives seasoning to food, and was also the most common method of food preservation. Salt was a good thing, needed for survival.  The good news of our salvation is a light in the darkness. We know we are to be a light in the world, sharing our hope and joy in that salvation.  It used to be that light was treasured, because there were dangers in the dark. Once the sun went down, we hunkered down, too.  Bread was the mainstay.  Wine wasn’t for the elite talking about bouquets  and bottom notes, it was the drink. Bread and wine sustained life.
Now salt is bad for the heart. Light can be had with the flick of a switch so we need never have full dark – and the sun causes cancer. Bread is full of evil carbs and gluten, while wine leads to drunk driving and alcoholism.
I’m not suggesting there is a conspiracy to undermine our Christian symbols (maybe there is?) but I know for sure their impact has been weakened, their meaning diluted because they have to be explained as once relevant in days of yore.  How does that effect how we hear the words? Do the parables have the same depth of meaning?  How about the truths of our faith? When we're told that Christ is the Light of the world , or when we're enjoined to be like salt, how do we hear it? What does it mean to us to hear of the first public miracle when Jesus changed water to wine?
I don't have any answers or deep insights.  This is just something that has been niggling away in the back of my mind for a while.


  1. Jesus always seemed to use veiled language when speaking to the crowds. In His days on earth those four symbols you mentioned were well known but the context in which He used them was not apparent to all, "He who has ears let him hear!". I believe He meant that those who were humble and sought the Truth would understand His meaning though others who considered themselves knowledgeable and righteous would not.

    In today's world the four symbols do not have the same impact as you said, but for those who "have ears", they also will seek deeper into their meaning if they truly are in search of the Truth, while worldly others will see these words as mere tokens of days gone by with with no relevance to modern life. In short, I believe the Truth is accessible to those who truly seek it no matter if the meaning of these words are archaic and meaningless to others who have no concern for the Truth.

    His words are timeless for those who have ears.

  2. Good point, B.
    It was ever thus.