As a kid raised on “memory verses,” little bits of scripture that were memorized and repeated as part of our daily and weekly religious life, I much preferred the short ones. And one of the verses I learned at a very young age was this one from Matthew 5:13: “Ye are the salt of the earth.” I loved it for its brevity even when I had no real idea what it meant.

Back then I supposed it had something to do with the salt shaker on our kitchen table. Even before I started learning memory verses, I learned that just a few of the sparkly white crystals on my tongue tasted really good, and that too much of the same stuff would ruin whatever I was eating.

Scan forward a few decades. The words that guide Adventist HealthCare contain a version of that text right there in the middle of our mission statement: “We demonstrate God’s care by improving the health of people and communities through a ministry of physical, mental and spiritual healing.”

At first glance you may not see it there, but in much the same way that salt (in the right proportions) improves the dish it is added to, we improve the lives of those we touch through a particular kind of healthcare that is also a demonstration of God’s love.

Before smiling at the greeting card simplicity of this notion, note the quiet insistence in these words. Jesus isn’t suggesting we become like salt, doesn’t invite us to give being salty a try, doesn’t say that some of us are salty and some of us aren’t. “You ARE the Salt of the Earth,” he says. And from the tone in the text, I think he means it.

For those who are called to demonstrate the love of God in a practical way, which is the very heart of our organization; for those who accept the responsibility of being a channel for God’s love; for those whose actions will flavor and improve people’s lives (and health); for those of us in faith-based healthcare, a high standard of practice is required. Not suggested, required.

At Adventist HealthCare we accept a divine mission: to represent God’s love by the way we do our work, the way we conduct ourselves, and the way we improve the health of the people and communities we are given to serve. Our calling demands exceptional practice and faithfulness, because what we do arises out of love. It is, quite simply, what being salt is all about.