Bethel CRC Lacombe


November 08, 2021 Pastor Jake Boer
Bethel CRC Lacombe
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to Bethel! We will be reflecting on Genesis 12:1-3; Matthew 5:13-16, To Change the World Together. God called Abram to follow him with a promise of blessings and that Abram and his descendants would become a blessing to the nations of the world. Jesus calls us to be light and salt in the world, both impact and transform the world, adding taste and hope. They are not neutral, but active agents. We too are called to be active agents in our communities, bringing a good taste, bringing hope, bringing Jesus. 

To Change the World Together 

Genesis 12:1-3; Matthew 5:13-16

November 7,2021

Why does the church exist, why does Jesus and why do we bother with it? A recent study on the North American church tells us that about 25% of those who regularly attended church before the pandemic have no intention of returning. The reasons are varied, but ultimately, they see little value in the church; they don’t see the “Why” of the church. They see the church as too political, of little value to society, and too obsessed with their own agendas which have little to do with making their communities a better place to live. 

I wonder if a large part of the reason is that the North American church has forgotten its ‘raison d’etre,’ its reason for being is because it has strayed away from its roots? So why is the church here? One of the first places to turn to is the story of Abram. Things have not gone well for God’s very good creation since he created Adam and Eve in his own image. With God’s image comes his ability to imagine and create, and Adam and Eve descendants use this ability to imagine controlling and dominate each other in order to build themselves up and make others and God small and unimportant. Even after God does a reset with the flood, humanity keeps seeking after the heavens on their own terms instead of God’s, resulting in God scattering them across the face of the earth and creating new languages and cultures. 

Now God changes tactics and begins a new chapter of his relationship with humanity and his plan to redeem creation and restore it to its place where it’s “very good” again. God chooses one family to bring knowledge of God into the world again, and to bring the promised Messiah. God turns to the family of Terah and comes to his son Abram, as we see in Genesis 12. God begins a journey with Abram and his family to change the world using Abram and his descendants, this is the whole idea of choosing him, not because Abram is so special, just read his story to realize how messed up Abram was at times, but God chooses Abram to make a difference in history to show it’s God who accomplishes his plan of bringing a saviour to the world through ordinary people, and sometimes even because of or in spite of the people. 

Abram would not have really understood this, he had to move forward in faith with little knowledge of what exactly God is doing but trusting in the path and opportunities and situations God placed him in to do the best he could with the knowledge of God he had through who the little of whom God has revealed himself to be to him. God promises Abram a place where his family will grow into a great nation, a huge promise to a man who is childless, unable to have any children with his wife Sarai.

God goes on to promise to bless Abram and anyone who blesses him, but the important part of God’s speech to Abram is not what he will do to Abram, but what he will do through Abram, “You will be a blessing… and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” God chooses Abram and his descendants to make a difference, and to be a difference in the world by being a blessing and revealing who God is through their lives lived out in faith in God. Being in a different culture and time, being a blessing looked different and Abram likely understood this a lot differently than we do today, but we do see examples of great faith and actions mixed in with his mess-ups; his tithing of his war spoils to King Melchizedek of Salem, his trust in the promise of a son even though he and his wife were way too old to still have children, his pleading to save the righteous people living in Sodom and Gomorrah, and then his willingness to offer this son as a sacrifice after he had chased his oldest son and his mother off into the wilderness. Abram shows the people around him the power of God in his life, but also that God is a God who desires a relationship with his people. Ultimately of course, the way Abram’s descendants bless all the nations and change the world is through the coming of Jesus from his family line.

Then Jesus comes and the world has never been the same since. It’s not just Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins that he does on the cross, echoing back to Abram’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac, but it’s also Jesus’ teaching and modelling on what the kingdom of heaven looks like. The Sermon on the Mount, which our passage comes from, is a collected body of teaching that Jesus taught over the three years he went through the land calling the people to repent and believe in God for the kingdom of heaven is near. Jesus doesn’t compare us to salt and light, he calls us salt and light, this I about who we are and not just about what we do. Salt is something that seasons and brings taste and flavour to food while preserving food, keeping it good just by being salt. Light helps you to see what’s going on around you, it lights the way before you and around you, it offers hope on a dark night when you’re heading home, it chases away the dark just be being light. 

When Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth, the light of the world,” he uses the plural you, meaning “you all,” pointing to all his followers, pointing to us today as the church. Jesus is saying that you all, the ones who are going to be insulted and persecuted because of me, the ones who are the poor in spirit hungering and thirsting for righteousness, the peacemakers, merciful, pure in spirit and meek are the ones being called the salt and light of the world. They are being called to be the blessing to the nations and to each other by being who they are as the blessed ones of God. In being these people, they are being salt and light, they are being the church.


As one commentary reminds us, “The local church is God’s plan A to do his mission on earth, and that he has no plan B. The New Testament, from Acts 2 to Revelation 3 is all about the local church. It is clear that God means for local congregations to be the focus of his ministry. When we minimize the local church, we minimize the work of God.” Salt and light affect their environments. Salt changes the food that it’s used in, making it taste better, making certain ingredients stronger. When you bake bread and don’t add salt, it tastes bland, but the bread also doesn’t rise as well because salt also has an impact on the yeast, helping the bread to rise better and be lighter. Salt is also used to preserve food, helping it stay good for a much longer time before it starts to rot. Salt doesn’t change so much as it changes whatever it touches.

Light affects its environment in a different way than salt. Light chases away darkness, showing us the things, we can’t see when there is no light. Light helps us see the path or the road ahead, just try driving at night in the country on a cloudy night with no headlights. Light serves as a beacon to give us a guide, it can act as a warning like a lighthouse warns ships of dangerous waters and obstacles ahead. Light brings hope. Jesus adds a snarky comment with both examples, reminding us that salt that’s no longer salty is useless, just like a light hidden under a bowl is also useless. The question then becomes, how are we salt and light where we are, what might that look like, does it mean doing a lot more things? Soren Kierkegaard, a Christian philosopher writes, “to be a Christian means to be salt and to be willing to be sacrificed,” referring to how salt was sprinkled on many of Israel’s sacrifices as a symbol of purity and making the sacrifice a tasty sacrifice for God. This echoes Paul’s call in Romans 12 to offer our lives to God as a living sacrifice.

Being salt and light first of all is about who we are as individuals and as a church; it’s about how we see and understand who we are. In Jesus’ teaching, being salt and light is in the context of being humble, mourning for the state of the world, meekness, having a hunger and thirst for righteousness because we see the inequity and injustice all around us, being merciful and pure in heart, focused on being who Jesus is calling us to be, and being peacemakers wherever we are. Being salt and light is about the condition of our heart for others, our community, and the world. This is what leads us then to do because of who we are: to season our community by standing up for those being oppressed, those weighed down by the burdens of life, by looking for ways we can be involved as individuals, as families, or with friends to make our community a better place to live where everyone feels they have opportunities to grow and contribute, no matter the colour of their skin, or ethnicity, or even faith. 

The church is a place where we learn to serve and be encouraged to serve rather than a place to be served, where our eyes are opened to who God is and his heart for the world.