The story of Salome is about sensuality, sexuality and seduction. She is described as being frivolous, callous and manipulative but she is a young woman trying to survive and thrive in a man’s world. We may not like the way she does it but this is who she is.
Salome is serious only about one thing and that is her own personal survival and wellbeing. For the Bible to put it as starkly and as bluntly as this is meant to jolt and shock us about what it means for us to be those who are serious about God, his plans and purposes, his heart for his creation and his intention to be faithful to all that he has said.
In the story of Salome there is a clue to point us to what this might look like and it is John the Baptist. John is described as being like an Old Testament Prophet who calls Israel to turn away from her idolatry and to trust in the living God. Such a message meant that he would face a Prophet’s future, which is death, because his words searched the hearts of all who listened to him and condemned them.
This is what the Bible does. It searches us and summons us to be serious about Jesus. It searches and summons us to take seriously the story of Jesus and to give to him all we have as our Lord and Saviour. This is how John lived. He took God at his word and gave him all that was his. This is why we read the Bible, or perhaps this is why we don’t, because we know that if we did so then we would have to change as it calls us to. But, to use Salome as an example, when we read and obey our Bibles we discover that this is exactly how we are to get on in this world. For when we live according to how God calls us to, we discover that we’re living according to our maker’s intentions and in a way that fits perfectly with how this world works; since it was made by him anyway.
When I think of being serious I think about Christmas. It is at Christmas we truly see what it means for God to be serious about his plans and purposes, his heart for his creation and his intention to be faithful to all that he has said. For it is at Christmas that he gave utterly and completely all that he had that we may respond in kind.
‘O come all ye faithful, serious and triumphant’ well perhaps this slight rewording reminds us of the joy this festival celebrates. Not the trivial joy of Salome but the joy of Jesus born in a stable, sleeping in a manger as the sign of God’s seriousness and determination for his world to be saved and made anew.