Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. - Genesis 13: 12 (KJV)
They also took Lot, the son of Abram's brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions, and went their way. - Genesis 14: 12 (ESV)
I remember September 11, 2001, as I am sure we all do. I was heading into the Lincoln Tunnel when I first saw smoke coming from the World Trade Center. By the time I arrived at work in Queens, we all knew that America was under attack. I remember that day as being so different than any other in New York City because it was OK to look at each other on the subway. It was OK to make eye contact because we all needed each other. We all were going through the same ordeal. Somehow we all knew we would make it through. I was not saved yet. I remember the raw emotion. The anger. The cries of "never forget." I remember we rallied around our president back then; even those who strongly disliked George W. Bush. It is a shame that 13 years later we cannot do the same. This however is not an attempt at a political discourse but rather a call to Christians to not confuse our citizenship, on this, the most emotional day for Americans.
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. - Philippians 3: 17-21 (ESV)
The Bible says we are pilgrims and sojourners through this world beloved. A world that is rapidly spinning out of control. I understand the raw emotions involved when we see thugs perform beheadings and gleefully video it for us. I understand the desire to be angry. The flesh reaction to want to exact revenge. The urge to want to attack people who do not share our faith, people who do not share our political affiliation, congress, the President, or anyone else to make us feel as if we can gain a measure of retribution. It is even more important at these times when our emotions want to rule the day that we guide ourselves even more carefully by Scripture. By what God says.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. - Romans 12: 14-21 (ESV)
These are tough Scriptures beloved. I get it. They are even tougher on a day like September 11. We want to believe they do not apply to Muslims. We want to believe they do not apply to people engaged in terror. We want to follow the theology of Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson who opined recently that we ought to convert them to Christianity or kill them. There is a reason why we should never get our doctrine from a reality television star. The true reality is we are not to repay evil with evil. Nor are we to advocate for it. The world should not see Christians posting vile attacks on the leaders of this country we are supposed to pray for. They should not see hateful Facebook rants and angry tweets. When we allow that, we are allowing ourselves to be overcome by the very evil we speak against. I didn't say it - God did. Do we honestly think that God has somehow lost control of His own creation? Do we think God wakes up one morning and says, "didn't see that coming!" What kind of God do we think we serve?
I will tell you what kind of God we serve and it is something you will not hear in many pulpits anymore. We serve a wrathful God. Do we really see that in these verses from Romans? Do we really understand that? Go back and read the verses slower and you will see screaming out at you, this message from God:
Never avenge yourselves.
Leave it to the wrath of God.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and those verses scare me sufficiently enough. We are constantly focused on the wrong life. This life is described as nothing more than a vapor. It is here today and gone tomorrow. Many who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001 can testify to that truth. What happens after our bodies leave this mortal coil however is eternal. It is forever. There are no second chances. There are no mulligans. There are no do-overs. There will only be two types of people. It will not be Muslims and Christians. It will not be Americans and Middle Easterners. It will simply be - sheep and goats.
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?'And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,you did it to me.' - Matthew 25: 31-40 (ESV)
Jesus does not say, "for I was angry at Muslims and you berated them for me." He does not say, "for I hated this politician and you despised them for me." We must start thinking eternally. Vengeance and wrath are left to God because an eternity in hell is far worse than anything we might imagine for someone we do not like. The Bible describes it as a place of great anguish, unyielding darkness and where there will be gnashing of teeth. The lake of fire does not sound like a place one would want to spend time without end. Beloved, the wrath of God is not something to gloss over or forget about. So what are we supposed to do preacher? We see the horrors in this world every day. We see the inept politicians who fiddle while Rome burns. We see our faith marginalized further with each passing day. Are we just supposed to stand by? Not at all beloved. God has told us what we are to do. God has also told us this was coming to pass. So the first thing we need to do is realize that none of this is a surprise for the God we serve. He is still sovereign over His entire creation. He still seeks for none to perish, even those we might hate carnally; but all to come to repentance. God did not only bless America. He does not seek to save only Americans. He does not even seek those who call themselves Christians:
And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?" And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." - Mark 2: 15-17 (ESV)
It seems that if Jesus were here today the church would ask, "Why does He eat with Muslims and Atheists?" Beloved, those who are well do not need a physician. We are the ones who are well! Secondly, we need to stop worshiping this country. Revival is not coming to America. God is not going to pour out His wrath and skip over this country. It seems every week there is another article written by another false prophet, saying that God told them if the lost would just behave better then America can somehow be spared. That is absolute nonsense. I have written this before but it bears repeating. The problem for the lost is not behavioral - it is relational. The broad path is broad for a reason; there are a lot of people on it. Few find the narrow gate that leads to eternal life. Few. Beloved, we must realize something. This country is Sodom. I do not say that with any joy; just with a sound understanding of my Bible and a working television. It is time to realize a harsh truth about ourselves today. We like Sodom. That is why we want so badly to save Sodom. That is why revival is a more commonly used word in the church today than sin. That is why so many pastors preach politics from the holy pulpit of God. That is why too many church leaders today are so active in Washington. It is why so many false prophets spend so much time prophesying about our country instead of our church. We love Sodom. We must realize today however that we are not to be of Sodom. This is why I chose the two key verses today. The first one, from Genesis 13, is when Abram and Lot separated. Abram dwelled in Canaan but Lot "pitched his tent towards Sodom." The very next time we hear of Lot again, is the next key verse and we discover that he was now living in Sodom.