How Do You Know That God Is Just?
Is he consistent with his own standards? Where is the limit? What is the cut-off point? And how does he define it? Is his justice fair and do I approve of it? Is his standard unrealistically high, too high for anyone to achieve?
All of this boils down to a Key Question: Can I trust God to do what is right ? How we answer that question pretty much defines our relationship with God.
In Genesis 18 there’s a story of God deciding to destroy some people who have ticked him off. Seems he wants to make sure that Abraham is okay with what he’s about to do so he tells him what’s coming. Unfortunately for Abraham, he remembers that his nephew lives in the city God plans to destroy. We would probably start with big time protest, “You can’t do that to my family, what’s the matter with you! Didn’t you promise to bless me and my family? He’s family! I demand you drop the whole idea now!”
Abraham is a tad smarter than that. Apart from the power difference between himself and God, he has to admit that God has a point: if they situation is as bad as the reports then something has to be done about these people (it’s not just a situation of some people bent on breaking the rules, they are hurting and destroying the lives of others too.)
So he hits on a better idea: play the same game and hope it works out. He goes along with God’s plan but raises the issue of protecting any who are righteous – they should not be destroyed just because they have evil neighbors; the evil people might have it coming to them but it isn’t right to destroy those who aren’t evil.
Lot, Abraham’s nephew, may have had mixed motives for being where he was, there may have been issues of compromise going on – it’s likely, we all face that, especially if we are living in bad situations. Yet, he maintained (at great personal risk and cost) the ministry of hospitality – expressed to strangers who were at risk from the evil ones in the community, revealing his love for God in his ministry to others.
Perhaps, as a member of the covenant family, Lot’s function in living in Sodom was to be a prophet, declaring and demonstrating to that community the way of God. Maybe he was intentionally there but living on a higher standard. Just maybe, before God destroyed the city, he had placed someone there who could contrast with the prevailing standards and demonstrate a better way to live, someone who dared to be different for good reasons.
Warning comes before destruction.
Rejecting that warning leads directly to destruction. This is not the action of a narrow and legalistic God: The written law was hundreds of years away. At issue was “righteousness” as defined by the way we treat (or abuse) others. There’s other important issues at stake here too since the abuse was being expressed in such actions as homosexual rape, especially taking advantage of the most vulnerable people they could find. No wonder there was an outcry. God cared about what they did to each other; God cared about the abuse of the vulnerable, he cared about those who ruthlessly used others for their own satisfaction.
The essence of this passage is in revealing the character and nature of God.
Can I trust God to do what is right ?
The principle is demonstrated – - resoundingly, “YES”
Before destruction came verification – was the situation as bad as reported? When the answer was clearly, “Yes, it’s every bit as bad as the reports,” destruction was inevitable – so the “righteous” were led out first. Righteous is a relative term – God seems to err on the side of generosity in its definition. That’s a good thing! Being righteous doesn’t have to also mean being perfect. It’s an attitude, a mindset, a valuing of others, respecting them and protecting them. It’s the “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” principle at work.
You might have noticed we live in a world characterized by abuse. We have watched the greed and corruption of the recent recession, we still feel its effects: predatory banks, falsified FDA studies to profit drug companies at the expense of the ill (both real and imagined), spurious law suits, eroding civil and personal rights, stifling and irrational over-regulation, price gouging by super-profiting energy companies, (can’t wait to see the volume of price increases that will be ‘justified’ by the current drought, related or not!), and we haven’t touched on road rage, and cheating and violence and . . . by now you get the idea.
So where’s the challenge, what’s the point? Well Lot lived among stuff like that and he was prepared to stand out against it. He risked his life and his family. We might struggle with how far he was prepared to go to appease his evil neighbors but the question to us is, “How far will I go to stand up to and resist the tide of evil?” Can God rely on us to be his “prophets of righteousness” in a selfish and self-serving world? It takes more than words.
- Did God Commit Atrocities by Ordering the Killing of Entire Cities of People? (raymondjclements.wordpress.com)
- Security Comes from Faith and Obedience (jesuscarriesme.com)
- History & Gay Pride (ezerwoman.wordpress.com)
Posted on July 19, 2012, in Communicating faith, Relationships and tagged Abraham, Evil, God, greed, human-rights, loving your neighbor, nature of God, Righteousness, Sodom, taking advantage, Violence and Abuse. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off.