Friday, January 04, 2013

Respect in the Wicked City - Genesis 19

Should Christians be respected? Yes and no.

Yes. Though Christians are sinful people who are by no way perfect, Christians have a responsibility to lead blameless lives, without a hint of sexual immorality or greed because these are improper for God's holy people. Our speech should be filled with wisdom, kindness, and discretion. Our conduct should be above reproach. We should seek to serve friends, coworkers, and our community. And when we fail privately and publicly (and we will), we must confess our faults, ask for forgiveness from God and others, and seek to start over by the grace of God for the good of others.

No. Christians are called to such a different goals and purposes that it seems impossible for non-Christians to look with favor on all that Christians do. Respect is a tricky thing. As Christians, we should live godly, sincere, and uncompromised lives. If in the end we gain respect in the world, so be it. But I'm guessing on more occasions than not, we will be hated, ridiculed and rejected for godliness. In the end we should not live to please men, but to please God.

A Biblical Example:

This leads me to the historical account of the patriarch Abraham's nephew Lot. Lot appears to be both a man of faith and a man of the world. He followed Abraham on the great adventure to the Promised Land. And yet, his greedy heart led him to willingly enter a well-known wicked city: Sodom (see Gen. 13). Not only that, but Genesis 19:1 suggests that he was respected in this city and allowed to sit at the city gates.

History and personal experience have regularly shown that to be respected in a wicked city often requires some measure of compromise. Maybe we are quiet when we should speak up regarding injustice. Maybe we "join in" only a little. We think we are above the fray, but Lot's story should wake us up.

Lot and his family became sexually compromised by living in a sexually compromised city. He offered his daughters to be raped, and then lo and behold, he was date raped by his own daughters in days to come. His own wife loved the city more than the command of God and lost her life. So too, Lot's faith seemed to ebb in Sodom and without God's sovereign grace (an angel pulling him out of the city), he might not have lived.

All this to say, beware of seeking respect in the wicked city.

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