Pickles dipped in a salt solution stay edible for a long time. Salt is a funny thing. A little salt brings out the best in food. Too much of it, and the food becomes inedible. A high concentration in salt is toxic. My husband uses a salt-based weed killer to get rid of the weeds in our yard. He also told me the story that the Romans dumped salt on Israel’s fertile soil after they had defeated the Jews and driven them out of the country. Nothing grew on the contaminated soil for centuries until the Jews came back and reclaimed their homeland. Salt contaminates, Salt enhances and Salt preserves – and I believe that the Apostle Paul knew that as much as we do. In his letter directed to the believers in Colossae, he asks them to season their conversations with salt, which is to say to use discretion.
Colossae (/kəˈlɒsi/; Greek: Κολοσσαί) was at one time an important city in the Roman province of Asia and belongs to southern Anatolia (modern Turkey) today. In Paul’s time the city was under Roman dominion. It is safe to assume that most of the believers in Colossae were employed by Romans, which paints the picture regarding Paul’s written remark: “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders”. Paul was talking about a believer’s conduct toward non-believers.
Protective of their sphere, clubs keep insiders in and outsiders out. In a sense, being kicked out of Paradise made the whole human race outsiders; thankfully heaven is no inaccessible club. God wants us back inside His realm, but He will not force us. So, He invites all outsiders to become insiders, but leaves it up to us whether or not we honor His invitation.
Boundaries protect from hostile invasion, but also create isolation. Ultimately, separation can only be seen as a temporary solution, which is why God has been working so intensely on reconciliation with the human race. This is what Jesus stands for and believers understand that.
Believers are touched and transformed by the Lord, but still they are no super humans. There are the pitfalls of extremism: one extreme is to become a holy club inaccessible to outsiders, another is to relax on God’s values, disintegrate into society and become inconsequential. There is no doubt, the situation is tricky, but we are not alone in this. We can ask God for wisdom and He will probably say: “I thought you would never ask”. He is glad to assist and we need all the help that we can get.