Pickles are an interesting food. When you read the first word in this post, I imagine you were picturing a cucumber that has been soaking in brine for quite some time. No other fruit or vegetable is so identified with the act of pickling. The pickled-cucumber’s very name has been changed to the action it so perfectly embodies. It is not just a pickled-cucumber, or a cucumber that believes that it should be brined, or a cucumber that thinks vinegar has a lot of great attributes; it IS the pickle. For those of us who enjoy eating pickles, when we see a fresh jar sitting on the table we don’t look at it and respond, “oh look, cucumbers with brine!” Instead we refer to them as the process that is still taking place. They are being pickled. They are pickles.Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians that those who follow Christ are to “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24) Of course we don’t sit in a bucket of brine, but we do get dipped (baptism) when we become followers of Christ. What Paul is teaching is that we are called to be the act of living with Christ. We are not called to be a person who respects the idea of Christ, who believes that Jesus existed historically, or to obey a litany of rules and regulations. All those things happen when we intentionally let ourselves be transformed. As people who are perpetually living with the Holy Spirit, we soak in the brine until our whole being looks like something else and then stay there.
When Jesus talks about salt losing its saltiness it is hard for us to imagine what salt would be without that, for lack of better words, salty flavor. “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50) It would be a shock to pull a pickle out of the jar, bite into it, and find that it is just a regular cucumber. How many of us simply let the brine wash over our skin without change? Christ compels us to be saturated to the point that when other people come near us they end up getting brine on them. When you dash salt you can’t help but get some on the counter, right?
We must learn to “brine” each other. We are called to encourage our sisters and brother in Christ and to show others that they are also meant to become something new and transformed by Christ. We do this by living out the uniqueness of following Christ. We display that the cucumber is no longer a cucumber but something entirely new. We show that there is true power in His Spirit that unites “new” people together; a certain conforming to His uniqueness.
The action of praying for one another, of inviting friends to worship with you, of reading scripture and quoting it, of singing songs of joy, of encouraging sisters and brothers, of silencing slander and gossip with words of affection and glory to God; this is the brine that Christ followers can be known for. Let’s pray together that we wont just agree to the terms, but we’ll live in the act of following Christ.
Pastor Chris Osterbrock
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. http://www.zondervan.com