The closer we move toward Godís perfect will, the more the church will prosper. Moves in that direction will require faith. Faith cannot happen without trust. Trust often entails sacrifice. What is Godís purpose for His church, and where do we fit in it? If we are unwilling to examine ourselves daily [2 Cor 13:5], we have no right to even call ourselves the church. But if weíre willing to overcome our fear, we can find our way out of our stubborn disobedience and back into the perfect will of God.
The instructions were fairly simple: (1) keep running, (2) donít
look back. But, like so many helpless, silly women in so many
horror movies, she couldnít resist turning away from Godís
promise to look back toward sin. And, in a flash, she was
destroyed. Itís as good a bedtime story as there is, this story
of Lotís wife. Most of us miss the truer lessons of the story,
using this passage from Genesis 19 to justify our hatred of
gays, when this isnít a story about homosexuality or even about
good versus righteous people. This is a story about obedience, about being part of Godís plan or choosing not to.
The surface-level look at the story tells us Lot, Abrahamís
nephew-in-law, was a righteous man, the one decent person living
in Sodom. What it doesnít tell us, though, is that Lot may have
been ultimately judged as righteous, but Lot was weak. In
previous scripture we find Lot living outside the city [Genesis
3:10-12]. But, when we next see him, heís living inside this
sinful place. Why would a righteous man take his wife and two
young daughters into such a hateful place? Why would a
prosperous farmer give up his livestock (Lot had so much
livestock, in fact, that he and Abraham could not graze their
flocks in the same place [Gen 13:6-7]) and move into an urban
hell? It makes no sense.
God has created within each of us a free will. We are free to choose Godís plan or to reject it. Going our own way is not, in and of itself, sinóLot could live wherever he wanted to live. But diverging from Godís plan for us has consequences. Last month I blogged about romantic love versus Godís plan for us. Satan can and will use our loneliness, our emotional needs, as a weapon against us. So much so that we begin longing for someoneís touch more than we long for the Lordís presence in our lives and we become impatient with God, deciding to ďhelp God outĒ by moving His agenda forward in a quicker fashion. But, itís not Godís agenda we are moving, itís ours. We fall in love with Boo and what have you, and next thing we know, weíre way, way off track from where weíd been going before we got distracted. Weíre wasting timeóyears and decades of itótrying to make these romantic relationships work because now weíre addicted to this person and itís like a coke habit; our obsession with this person to the exclusion of our own aspirations and the vision God has given us. Weíre compromising everythingóincluding Godís plan for our livesóand giving time and resources that used to belong to God to this knucklehead instead. Weíre stressing and trying to appease him or her, trying to work it out, trying to keep the peace, struggling to hold the relationship together. And, in so doing, we diminish the importance of God, the effectiveness of God, the sovereignty of God, in our lives. We diminish our own testimony, as your abandonment of God's plan demonstrates an impotent god, a dormant god, an ineffectual god to the romantic partner youíre struggling to hold onto. Your alleged convictions are meaningless to him or her because you are unwilling to sacrifice for them in any measurable way. You've set no boundaries, taken no stands. Your god takes second place to the demands of your Boo. Instead of following Godís plan, you are ďfollowing your heart.Ē Instead of moving forward in righteousness, you're looking back at sin.
Then one day you wake up and youíre forty. Overweight. Broke. Used up. Kids who neither know nor respect God because youíve made God a joke in your own life. And you look at yourself in the mirror and wonder how your got so far off track.
Thatís the truer moral of Lotís story.
I can imagine Lot ended up in the city because he was too close
to the city in the first place. Heading into town for provisions,
supplies or even an entertaining night out was convenient and
tempting. Once we start dipping and
dabbling in sin, sin begins drawing us in. [James 1:15]. So,
hereís Lot, a farmer, blessed by God, waking up one day inside the
Sodom. There is no further mention of the abundance of sheep and
goats, the best of Abraham and Lot's combined flock. It is unclear
that Lot is even a farmer anymore. He seems to have wandered
completely off of God's track. Yet, the bible calls him righteous. Righteous, yes.
Disobedience leads to poor judgment; Lot offering his virgin daughters (by biblical standards, where girls routinely married at fourteen or fifteen, Iíd make these girls around twelve or thirteen) up to the unruly mob whoíd come to violently rape the angels at Lotís house [Gen 19:8]. Where was Lotís righteousness in that offer? These guys werenít going to take his daughters out for dinner and a movie. They wanted sex, and they wanted it violently, a gang rape. And this was the best idea Lot had, to protect strangers by offering up two little girls to be sexually assaukted in front of their own house. This was Lotís testimony to his wife, to his kids. This was the "god" Lot demonstrated to his daughters (which largely explains their later behavior). This was how far off the track Lot had strayed.
Even so, when God delivered Lot from his own poor choices, Lotís wife, his Boo, knew so little of God, believed so little of God, perhaps because Lot had put her first, thus diminishing his testimony and undermining his professed faith in God, thatófor reasons the Bible does not enumerateóshe turned back toward sin. Longingly, sad to leave sin.
This is the way sin works: it first convinces you to move away from Godís plan, the it destroys your testimony to the point where people around you think of your spirituality as a joke. Sin then strips you of Godís blessing, of His promise, of everything you have. Lot fled the city with nothing, the clothes on his back. He lost everything, including his wife. Lot's children, so disconnected from Lotís GodóLot having so destroyed his own testimonyósaw God as impotent and ineffectual. In spite of the terrible manifestation of Godís power in destroying two cities in front of their very eyes, these two kids nonetheless thought God needed them to help Him out, thinking, since Mom was now a pillar of salt, it was their duty to re-populate the destroyed cities. Lotís two, innocent, pubescent daughters got him drunk and had sex with him, deliberately getting themselves knocked up by their own father in some warped attempt to help out Lotís impotent God.
A righteous man? Perhaps. But Lotís behavior was much more in line with that of so many of us Church Folk. People who either knew God but strayed away, following their own path, or people who just grew up in a church environment, taking on the external behavior and traditions of Church Folk, but who do not have and likely never had a thriving personal relationship with Jesus Christ. So, we have people who have been made righteous through faith, but who nevertheless substituted their own judgment for Godís judgment, their own plan for Godís plan. It is a terribly simple formula, one of Satanís most seductive and effective weapons against Godís church: disobedience.