Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Live Relationally

While reading the book I review below, Live Relationally, I studied the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in the book of Genesis. It's a story I've read countless times before, but for some reason, God had a special message in it for me this time.

It seems like since the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah we've been hearing from preachers condemning the current culture as the reincarnation of the cities and predicting its demise. When you read the story, it's easy to agree. Two of God's angels approach the town after visiting Abraham's camp with God. While the two angels walk to the city, God and Abraham have negotiation about how many righteous men must be in the town for God to save it. Abraham bargains God from 100 down to 10, but the angels can't find even that many. When the arrive there, they meet Lot in the village square and he offers them lodging in his home. They want to spend the night outside, but Lot insists, and they go with him to his house. Once there, the house is surrounded by the men of the town demanding that Lot throw out his two visitors so they can be used sexually. Lot refuses and offers his virgin daughters (!) in the angels' place. The men decide to attack them all, and only the angels' quick action, pulling Lot into the house and striking the villagers blind, are they saved.

The angels tell Lot that his town is about to be destroyed allow him to tell his sons-in-law to rescue them. The men don't believe that Lot is serious and refuse to leave. Even after seeing the angels blind the townsfolk and the warning that Sodom was about to be wiped off the map, Lot dithers around until one of the angels pulls him, his two daughters, and his wife out of the town telling them to run and keep running until they reach the mountains. We all know about poor Lot's wife who couldn't help herself and turned around to watch all that she owned and loved be destroyed and was in turn destroyed by being turned into a pillar of salt. We know from the daughters' later shenanigans that they aren't exactly righteous, so it appears that God saved the family from destruction for love of Abraham rather than by any of their own worth.

There's a message in that for us: it's for love of the Son Jesus that God saves us all, no matter how little we deserve it. If we have given our hearts to Jesus, we are saved from the certain destruction of death.

But that's not the real message God gave me while I was reading this chapter. I kept coming back to the preachers condemning America/Hollywood/New York as the new Sodom & Gomorrah and thinking about their self-righteous posturing. According to James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. So that means if you live your whole life and never commit any of the big sins: murder, theft, adultery, sexual sin, etc, but you have been self-righteous, judgmental, prideful, gossiped, lied (even the little white ones), any of the things we try not to classify as sin because it would condemn us, you are just as worthy of the destruction as the worst villain on death row.

When I look at sin that way, I know that fire and brimstone should be raining down on my house this very moment. Just today I have talked about loved ones behind their back, was self-righteous about other people, and lost my temper with Mia (remember, Jesus said that if you are angry in your heart, you have murdered in your heart). Keep in mind Ezekial 16:49 says: Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.

So the prophet is saying that Sodom was not destroyed for the sexual sins that we so often associate with the city, but with the same sins most of us commit on a daily basis. It's important to keep this in mind when we look down our noses at others' sin. Jesus told us to get the log out of our own eye before worrying about the other guy's splinter for just this reason. It's all to easy to condemn someone else for their sins while minimizing our own. I am worthy of fire and brimstone, and so are you. Thank you Jesus for rescuing me from my well-earned destruction and for reminding me that no sin outweighs another.

Living Relationally by Lenya Heitzig & Penny Rose is terrific entry in their Fresh Life series. This volume offers lessons gleaned from the women of Genesis. From Eve's temptation by the serpent to Potiphar's wife's temptation of Joseph, there are important teachings that the authors reveal by encouraging readers to read the Scripture, reinterpret it in their own words, and then find ways to apply it to everyday life. Their books are filled with terrific anecdotes and quotes that bring the stories to life along with indepth information about life in the time of the patriarchs that gives new understanding to stories that are very familiar. I hope to read more of this series!

Thank you to David C. Cook Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book for review!

Have you signed up yet to win the pair of children's books by Lisa Tawn Bergren I'm offering this week? You haven't? Well, why not? God Gave Us Christmas and God Gave Us Love are charming entries in the Little Cub series and are sure to please both children and their parents. Just leave a comment on any of this week's posts or send me an email before 10 pm on Thursday, Dec. 3rd to enter.

Today's pic is of part of the destruction in Gomorrah. This website has some fascinating pictures and evidence of the cities' ruin.