Today we visited the Creation Expo in Portsmouth. It was not good. However, one of the pamphlets we got said:
‘Why shouldn’t homosexuality be regarded as acceptable if what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah is just a folk myth?’ Pamphlet no. 327 by Barbara Lambeth
This irritates me a lot. It irritates me because here are people using bits of the bible when they obviously haven’t read the commentary included in bible about that particular passage.
Ezekiel 16:49 (KJV as the Creation Expo seem to only like this version)
‘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.’
Pride, fat and lazy. Ignoring the poor and the needy. These were their sins and so often christians ignore these sins in favour of focussing on the sin of homosexuality.
I think often because it is easier to point out other people’s sins than to examine our own lifestyle and consider if we are guilty of any sins. These sins, of pride, gluttony, laziness and not caring for the poor and needy are ones that we in the western world need to be standing up against. It is these sins that we should be preaching about – and yet, the christian media spends its time fighting against homosexuality.
In a week where we are receiving news from around europe about the migrant crisis, showing people who have left their own countries due to war, extremism and famine, we need to be preaching compassion. We need to be preaching about love, acceptance, about putting the needs of others before our own needs.
And these are scary things to preach about. These are scary things to live out because these things require us to change. To say that we should share more means that I will have less. To condemn others is easy because it requires nothing from me. To take the lessons of Sodom and Gomorrah and use it to demonise a minority is easy because it puts the blame onto someone else.
When Jesus died, he took everybody else’s sin onto himself and then he called us to take up our cross and to follow him. To follow Jesus we need to be saying with Paul, that we are all sinners and that I am the worst of all. To be looking at the evilness of the world and saying this is because of my sin, not looking to others and saying they are to blame.
It is our sin, our pride, our gluttony, our laziness, our failure to help the poor and needy, that is causing the problems. It is us, not them, and we can change our behaviour, and we can change the world.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
I’ve been thinking about this passage a bit recently. It is used a lot. A verse that describes the mission brief that Jesus left first for those who had followed him and then on to each generation.
And it is a crazy thing to be asked to do. Therefore go. Go. Go away from this holy land that your ancestors took so long getting to and building. Go. Leave the land you have been promised. Go away from the temple where your God lives. Go from your homes, from your families. Go.
And make disciples of all nations. No longer is this message just for one nation. Go to all nations and all people.Leave not only the place where you are comfortable but also leave the culture you are comfortable with. Go to all nations. You have been blessed to be a blessing.
There are then stories about how the disciples went about carrying out this command. They sold everything they owned and shared everything. They practiced equality among people from different backgrounds. They equipped and sent out missionaries. They took opportunities that they were given to share the gospel with everyone they came across. They spoke to leaders, they spoke to groups of women meeting at the river, they met in the homes of the wealthy, they sang praises in jail.
They changed. They adapted. They moved.
They disagreed and held meetings to seek God’s will in new situations – decisions about big changes to things they had held onto as solid parts of their faith such as circumcision. And then they left it behind.
And then I think about this generation, about me. Sometimes we think about where it is we have to go but sometimes I think where do I need to go from? What do I need to go away from? What is it that I hold dear? Can people still be disciples if they don’t believe or do something I feel is important? Can I change? Can I adapt?
‘I don’t need a saviour.
I don’t need to be rescued from my sin
What have I done that’s so wicked?
Why should I be born again?’
People tell me they live good lives
They don’t murder, lie or steal
They ask what sins of mine were laid upon this so called lord of yours?
Maybe I’m unique
Maybe I am strange
But I don’t need anyone to tell me what I’ve done wrong
There was no need for God to convict me
I tried and judged myself
I knew that I was guilty
No evidence was needed
Every single day I do and say things wrong
I know they’re wrong because they hurt people
I know they’re wrong because I know
I don’t need anyone outside of me to tell me how I behave
So when I heard about the saviour, about the one who took the blame
I didn’t him to list my sins and make me feel shame
But when he looked at my life
When he looked at my sin
He took my list of wrongdoing and crossed each one off
He took ownership of my bad parts
He gave me freedom from myself
Why would I not be grateful?
Why would I not decide to follow him every day of my life?
So when you say you have no need to be saved
When you tell me you don’t need to be rescued
Then I want to know how you have found freedom from yourself?