America: a Modern Sodom
Ah, Sodom! Today, the very mention of that city invokes thoughts of wickedness of the worst kind. The reputation of that city is so prevalent, that it has even lent its name to the sinful act for which it is best known.
The Bible calls Abraham’s nephew "Just (Righteous) Lot." (2 Pet. 2:7) When we read the account of his and Abraham’s parting, in Genesis chapter 13, we find that, given the choice of where he wished to live, he chose Sodom. Knowing what we know about that city, the question arises, "What was he thinking?"
In this passage, Sodom, and the surrounding region, prior to its destruction, is likened unto the "garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt." It was a land that was very lush and beautiful. It is no wonder that Lot would prefer to live there, in spite of the fact that "the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly."
Because of his righteousness, Lot was not well liked. Even in the midst of such great darkness, Lot was able to remain faithful and just before God, and the wicked inhabitants of that city resented him.
The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for their sin, and Lot and his family were spared (yet his wife disobeyed the messengers of God, and fell victim to His wrath). Once again we picture the great sin of Sodom. Maybe some of you liken that city to cities with similar reputations such as San Francisco, CA or Provincetown, MA. But the great sin of Sodom was not sodomy, for that was just an expression of their wickedness – a symptom.
In Ezekiel 16, God is rebuking Jerusalem for following in Sodom’s footsteps. In verse 49, the prophet writes, "Behold this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy." That being the case, we need not limit our comparison of Sodom to cities known for homosexuality, but we can include every city in our country ... even the one in which we live.
The pride of America is indisputable. We "know" that we are, and always will be, the greatest country in the world: the world’s only Super Power. It is we who maintain the peace of the entire world. We are the ones who feed it. We provide the model for the greatest form of government. We provide the funds which sustain it.
In a very real sense, the United States is like Eden also. Everything you could want or need can be obtained here. The poorest immigrant can become the head of a Fortune 500 corporation. The opportunities in this "land of plenty" are nearly limitless. There is, however, a down side. Here, just as in Sodom, many fall prey to indulgence as a result of the great abundance. Hence, we become guilty of the sin of "fulness of bread" that was a bane to that ancient society.
Another cause of Sodom’s undoing was the abundance of idleness. "Leisure time" has become a priority in our age. We have come to expect our 5-day, 40-hour work week as an inalienable, human right. Americans have the need to be entertained visually and audibly. We run to every "excess of riot," as did the unbelievers in the days of Paul. These three characteristics which now plague the United States of America, were the real sin of the infamous city-state of Sodom.
The trouble is, "we" Americans who have fallen prey to this wickedness, all too often, includes the
Christians here as well. Case in point: the sports enthusiast.
One example, in particular, comes from the recent move the NFL’s Houston Oilers to Nashville, Tennessee. When visiting Nashville earlier this year, I chanced upon an article in The Tennessean, with the headline "Church on Sunday not only game in town." According to the article, "Some congregations reported a 50% decrease in attendance on Sunday because of the Titans’ 11:30 a.m. home game." The priorities of believers have surely shifted from those of the spirit-filled and spirit-led Christian pioneers for whom, throughout history, God was first and central to every aspect of life. Even more surprisingly, the article goes on to say that other congregations "are contemplating alternative services next season to give fans more Sunday morning faith options and in hopes of avoiding a dramatic attendance dip." Pastor Howard Olds of Brentwood United Methodist Church said, "We have to recognize we’re in a secular world where Sunday is no longer separated out for worship and rest."
Truly, as the America’s Christian community has become more secularized, Sunday worship has not been the only thing to get lost in the shuffle. Christianity is becoming swallowed up in our country by secularism and materialism. We talk about our constitutional provision for the separation of church and state, yet we seek more and more ways to be absorbed by the society at large. Today, there is little apparent difference between the "saved" and the "lost." Their interests are similar. They talk alike, dress alike, and visit the same places.
God commands us, however, to be sanctified – separated from this present world, having provided the power to do so by the blood of His Son Jesus. He desires for us to be a "chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that we might shew forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvellous light." Let us do so, brethren, even according to the commandment of our Lord, that, when the wrath of God is poured out on this wicked and filthy generation, we be not partakers with them. And let us remember Lot’s wife, for although she was not "called unto wrath," she loved this world, and the things of this world, and was condemned.
Accept Christ as your Lord and Savior. Live for Him and serve Him. Cause Him to be the center of your life, taking precedence over everything else. Then, and only then, will you have abundant life and true, unspeakable joy.