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[Readings]

Fresca and Brimstone

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From a sermon given in July 2020 by the minister at Grace Community Church, a megachurch in Sun Valley, California. The church had a coronavirus outbreak in October.

We are salt and light in the world. That doesn’t mean we’re going to be accepted by the world—we understand that. Salvation in Christ transforms us from being part of the decaying, corrupt, diseased world. We become salt. We’re transformed from being part of the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. We are living influences in the world, we’re the only hope. Sinners have no hope but the church. No virus should stop us.

What about salt? The Greeks used to call salt divine. In ancient times, couples carried salt to their weddings. The Romans used to say nothing is more valuable than sun and salt. In Germany, brides’ shoes once were sprinkled with salt. Covenants were made with salt. I read about a caravan of forty thousand camels—that’s a lot of camels—carrying salt across the Sahara. That’s how important salt was. Wars were fought over salt. Salt is significant.

We are in the world in the sense of salt, the way salt has been used throughout all of human history, to preserve something from corruption. The church is the only preservative in society. We have to be rubbed into the world. That is to say we have to mingle. Even salt has to dissolve to do its work. The whole world is like a rotting, putrefying, relentlessly deteriorating carcass, and we’re the only moral, spiritual disinfectant. We must influence the world and not be influenced by it.

Through all the history of God’s redemptive work in the world, civil rulers have worked against God’s people, have sought to overrule God, to abuse their sphere of power by stepping into God’s kingdom and trying to take authority. We were told millions were going to die. It was just sensible and rational to be protective. As time went on, however, we found out the virus was not as deadly as predicted. And the commands not to assemble didn’t apply to protesters and rioters; and little by little, Sunday by Sunday, you kept coming back. We didn’t send out an order—you just kept showing up. The first two weeks I preached to no one. I preached to Patricia, which is pretty routine for me. But by the third week, all of a sudden there were people here, and the fourth week and the next week; and here we are. You kept coming back.

Why not sooner? Predictions of death. Why now? Aren’t we putting people in danger? The real danger in this world is spiritual, isn’t it? By the way, alcohol kills three million people a year, and all the liquor stores were open. I know they were open because I couldn’t get any Fresca, and when I wanted to get Fresca, you know what I was told? That all the aluminum was eaten up by beer cans. Fact. Because the bars aren’t open, the beer producers are taking all the aluminum. I want my Fresca.


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January 2021