"Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness ..." (Luke 14:34-35)

"Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear." (Luke 14:34-35)

What is Jesus referring to as saltiness?

Jesus is speaking of devotion to the Supreme Being. He says this just after he says:
"In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples." (Luke 14:33)
The process of giving up something for something else is called devotion. Devotion is a natural part of our constitution. By nature, we must be devoted to something. Why?

We can devote our life to becoming famous or winning at some sport or skill. Or we can devote our life to becoming a leading politician. Or we can devote our life to having a big family and a big house. Or we can devote our life to becoming wealthy. Or perhaps towards reaching all of these or a combination of these things.

To achieve any or a combination of these things means giving up other things. A person who wants to have a big family and big house will have to give up the singles life of dating around. The person who wants to be a leading politician must give up those activities that will lose elections. To achieve wealth one must give up spending money frivolously. Accomplishing each of these requires giving up something else.

Do we have to give something up for spiritual success?

Spiritual perfection also requires the same process of giving something up. When Jesus says "everything" he is referring to our attachments to the physical world - our temporary body and that which is connected to our temporary physical body.

Jesus communicated this same instruction elsewhere:
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Matt. 6:24)
"Money" in this statement is translated from the Greek word μαμωνᾶς (mamōnas), which is more appropriately translated to "mammon" or "materialism."

The reason one cannot serve materialism and God at the same time is that each requires devotion in order to serve them. Materialism comes with many requirements - time, dedication to gaining that object of materialism (especially money), and attachment to it in order to maintain that object of materialism.

Being devoted to materialism renders our existence meaningless - as Jesus states above. This is because materialistic achievements are all temporary.

Doesn't materialism also come with sacrifices?

This isn't as if materialism doesn't also require sacrifice. Outside of our spiritual life, materialistic achievements typically require commitment and sacrifice, of time, money, hard work and so on. It is not as if we are given materialistic success without working for it.

But materialism also takes another toll on us. It produces anxiety. What kinds of anxiety, you ask?

- The anxiety of not having what we desire and the possibility of not getting it.
- The anxiety of losing what we have already achieved or gained.
- The anxiety of having lost what we had previously.

These three anxieties pertain specifically to materialism and this is based upon the fact that we are not these physical bodies. And because we are not these physical bodies, the objects of materialism are fleeting and temporary. They come and go. One might have money one day but then lose it in the future. One might have a big house but one day the bank forecloses on it. One might have a big family but at some point the kids grow older and go their own way, leaving the 'empty nest.'

Then, even what we might retain to the end of our life, we lose it at the time of death. When our body dies, we must leave behind everything in the physical world. Any money, homes, family, careers, reputation - everything - we might still have, will have to leave behind at the time of death.

Are identity and materialism related?

Each of us is a spiritual entity who temporarily occupies a physical body. At the time of death we leave these physical bodies behind and everything they may possess.

But our spiritual person must still - by constitution - embrace something or someone. Our desire to devote ourselves to someone or something remains. This is not a composition of the body. This part of the spirit-person's composition. By constitution the spirit-person is active, and by nature, must be devoted to something or someone.

For this reason, a spirit-person who leaves the physical body while remaining attached to the things and people of the physical world will come to occupy another physical body in the physical world in order to achieve those. This is the design of the Supreme Being, as He lovingly allows the spirit-person to live out our desires with significant freedom of choice.

For this reason, materialistic family members typically rejoin each other in subsequent lifetimes - albeit typically within a different relationship and without knowing how they knew each other in a previous lifetime. This is because families tend to travel together playing different roles in order to provide lessons to each of us in successive lifetimes.

This is because this physical world is a place of learning.

What is consequence learning?

God's design also requires that we must deal with the consequences of our activities - in order to learn. This means the next lifetime will also embrace whatever we did in this lifetime. If we hurt others in this lifetime, we will receive that in our next lifetime. This is why, for example,  children can be born into suffering. This is the result of that spirit-person's actions in a previous lifetime in another body. (This doesn't mean we can't help such a person, however. Mercy is also part of our learning process.)

But for the spirit-person who becomes devoted to the Supreme Being - when that spirit-person leaves the physical body, they won't return to the physical world. Devotion to the Supreme Being allows them to return to our real family in our spiritual home in the spiritual realm.

But in order to achieve this according to Jesus, we must become dedicated. We must dedicate our lives - first to coming to know God, then to establishing a devotional relationship with Him, and then to becoming pleasing to Him.

This doesn't mean we have to give up our job or our career or our family or our possessions. But it does mean giving up the notion that these things will make us happy. We have to give up our attachment to them, because after all, we will lose all of them anyway.

In such a state of dedication - we can devote whatever things we find important to the Supreme Being as well. Anything within our realm of influence can be devoted. Whatever we may temporarily have can be offered in our service to the Supreme Being. And instead of seeking praise for ourselves, we can praise the Supreme Being.

Once we offer to Him the things we find important in this world, those things will belong to God. And instead of our life being an instrument for materialism, our life can become His instrument - giving us the facility to enter His world and come to know and love Him with all our hearts. In this way, we can achieve our innate "saltiness" - our natural position of loving devotion to the Supreme Being.

This is the goal of Jesus' teachings - to come to love God with all of our hearts:
" ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’" (Luke 14:33)