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Jesus and Sodom

No one could rightly accuse Jesus of having low standards. But he was accused in his day of being “a friend of sinners.”

Religious leaders of the lakeshore community of Capernaum, for instance, would have criticized Jesus if he had befriended the kind of people who once lived on the shores of the Dead Sea, at the southern border of their promised land.

Yet, the rabbi from “the other side of the tracks” was bold in defending his compassion. According to the Gospel writer Matthew, Jesus said, “And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.” (Matt 11:23-24; Luke 4:31-41).

Later, an apostle of Jesus by the name of Paul expressed a similar thought in his letter to the Romans. He wrote about a world that fell into same sex relationships after turning its back on it’s Creator. But like Jesus, Paul’s focus didn’t stop there. He went on to give a long list of sins that included greed, envy, and gossip. Then he added, “You may be saying, ‘What terrible people you have been talking about!’ But you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you do these very same things. And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things.” (Rom 1:18-2:2).

Jesus and Paul both saw more than the sins that are near the center of our own culture wars. Together their teaching aligned with the prophet Ezekiel who reminded the holy city of Jerusalem that a real assessment of the sins of Sodom included, “(a) pride, (b) overeating, (c) idleness, (d) a lack of concern for the poor and … (e) the wrongs for which Sodom and Gomorrah are remembered (Ezek 16:49-50).

I long for the wisdom and attitudes of Jesus. I’m convinced his way of seeing the world could transform not only the way I look at the wrongs of others, but also what I see in the mirror. I want to spend the rest of my life trying to learn from the one who said, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him. But those who do not trust him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God” (John 3:17-18).

So, now, let me ask you, if Jesus were to walk into our town, and into our churches, the way he walked into Capernaum, and her synagogue, what do you think he would see and want to talk about?

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15 Responses to “Jesus and Sodom”

  1. dep7547 says:

    I believe that no matter what you put at the top of this list, everything will lead to the root of forming just judgments. The issue of tithing for example, leads some to question whether or not to tithe from gross or net income. The answer from the pulpit all too often asks the question of whether or not believers want a net blessing or a gross one. While it is the responsibility of a congregation to support its ministers, congregants should not be expected to sacrifice all of their luxuries so that a privileged few may live off the fat of the land. This, in fact, leads to forming political divisions in the church itself, which should not be occurring.

    As I remember it, Abraham took it upon himself to offer a tenth of all he had to Melchizedek. Abraham; however, had not already had 33% of his stock seized by a larger political entity who needed it to support their idleness. Jesus saw that the poor widow offered her rabbis a lot more than the rich congregants who offered out of their overabundance.

    I remember attending a mid-sized bible church in the 1990’s who had a regional delegate of the denomination address the issue of wealthier congregants who used their contributions as leverage in determining matters of the faith. Apparently some congregants of other churches had threatened to take their families and their wallets elsewhere if they did not get their ways: This delegate looked out at the congregation and then the pastor and said, “tell them to take their wallets and go–money cannot dictate godly manners.”

    To this day, I wonder how many good people have left churches because this type of counsel has been ignored. I believe there are many godly pastors out there who have been torn over the issue of having to choose whether to close the food pantry and other services or accepting influential funds. However, as pastors, they need to exercise the same faith that they preach.

  2. igetbored says:

    Jesus would say to most churches and church leaders stop running things your way, with your programs and agendas, and let the Holy Spirit lead. He would tell us to quit letting sin in the churches and to start standing up for him in this country. He would want to see our schools and how we have destroyed are education sytem and are children’s minds. He would ask why no one prays in school or why the ten comandments are gone and none of the children have bibles. He would want to see why our churches are off the beaten path, but strip clubs are on every corner. But then again Jesus already knows all this and saw it all on the cross. Thats why he died. To save us from ourselves. God Bless

  3. charlie64 says:

    I believe if Jesus walked into any town,total love and forgiveness would surround Him,but God the Father is a Holy God,and He will not tolerate sin!!! So Jesus’s demeanor would attrack sinners like flies because they would want what HE has! However we Christians would have our hearts torn asunder with the overpowering Love of Jesus in the flesh!!!!!Forgiven sinners as we are I think we can become somewhat “comfortable” in our own love for Jesus instead of listening to the “challanges” He presents to us each day and obeyin Him!!!

  4. desert rose says:

    Yesterday, an 18 year old boy left his Christian home because he had told them nine months ago he was a homosexual. He went without a note or anything and has gone to a home miles away where they believe it is all right behavior. They have even offered to take him to a Baptist church that has a lesbian pastor.

    If Jesus were to step into the churches, my own included, I believe He would look into each of our lives and find sin. How many of us have allowed things on TV into our homes that years ago we would not have? Even if we are watching a good clean show, how about the exposure to commercials.

    I believe Jesus would want to know what happened to our Biblical Principles and where is our faith – to stand for what is right. Why are we not equipped, like myself, to understand how to combat someone discussing something such as homosexuals – when they show you scientific proof.

    My only answer is that I believe in faith. Faith to me means I believe the Bible even though I don’t understand all of it nor do I have all the answers. The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness and it is by faith we are saved.

    I believe Jesus would see the as a whole, only a few believers, who understand we are in a spiritual battle and it is a battle where we must make a stand. While the Bible teaches us ‘not to judge’ he does tell us we shall know the fruit by examination.

    Jesus would see our sorrow and know how upset we are to see sin have such an integral part of most American’s lives. But He is also such a forgiving God that His arms are open wide to receive us all.

  5. drkennyg says:

    I think that He would find a great deal of sin in His church today. When I go, I go as a sinner desiring to confess and receive forgiveness. I am part of His church and I am glad He came to save the lost souls of the world. I was once so very lost and now I am found in Christ Jesus.

  6. poohpity says:

    I think Jesus would see the things He told us that would happen when He is no longer our first love. He described what the churches were going to look like in the book of Revelation. I think he would say “I told you so”. Well maybe not hahaha that is what I would say. I do however think He would say “Even though a complete mess has been made, let me show you what I can do to change things, TRUST ME and only me. I am your Hope and you will never be disappointed when you put me back in control.”

    Rick Warren really hit the nail on the head when he said, “It is not about me”, It is all about God. You know the V-8 commercial when the person hits their head and says, “I could of had a V-8”. It would be nice if we went around hitting ourselves in the head saying, “I could have trusted God” or “I could of read the Bible”. There is nothing He did not already know it is just we are really hard headed or hard hearted which ever fits.

    He will get our attention it is a shame we have to wait until the last minute, or so much hardship before we relinquish control.

  7. Hephzibah610 says:

    Wow..that is food for thought. At first I was thinking “Hey, it would be so wonderful to have Jesus come into our church….and then….maybe not…

    I am not sure that what He would have to say to us would necessarily be something that would be soft on the ears. (Yet truth is always freeing if we embrace it.)

    Hmmmm…this is giving me something to chew on….

  8. daisymarygoldr says:

    This is actually causing my mind to envision all kinds of mixed scenarios…
    If Jesus were to have walked into our towns He would be moved with compassion at the sight of brokenness beyond repair, despair beyond hope and darkness beyond the reach of light. He would then begin to heal the sick, feed the hungry, preach about God’s love and His kingdom and forgive every repentant sinner. Maybe He’d even hang out with those scary looking tattooed guys draped in leather and whizzing around in their noisy motorcycles.

    If Jesus walked into our churches He would certainly be amazed to find both ‘great faith’ and ‘ungrateful unbelief’. He would right away tell us not to waste our time debating about who has a better version of the Bible or whose interpretation of His word is right. He would also have some stern words of warning to the ‘keepers of the faith’ to mend their hypocritical ways lest He would be compelled to use ‘the rod’. He would patiently explain about how we need to have faith in Him for everything and not to be anxious about mundane things… by painting a better picture (than Paul) about what lies in store for us in Heaven. He will definitely do what He did in the temple at Jerusalem- overturn the tables of money changers to purge business out of His worship place. Being caught up in this excitement, maybe I’d eagerly lend Him a helping hand by making Him a whip of cords but one glaring look of disapproval from Him will send me scuttling back with humility to my own little work corner.

    Reality Check: He already did all of the above and now wants each of one of us His followers to do the same today- a very tough calling indeed but we do have a great helper in the Holy Spirit!

  9. dep7547 says:

    igetbored, you bring up some valid points on how our educational system has gotten destroyed and taken the minds of our children along with it. Unfortunately, both sides of the atheist/Christian struggle for control are at fault in this process. Atheists want public school officials to take Christ out of Christmas and in turn, some Christian public school officials have retaliated by taking down the Christmas tree as well. The problem here is that Christians have retaliated against instead of forgiven the other side.

    I do not know how we are supposed to take a stand on an issue like this, but the fact that our children’s imaginations are being stolen from them is evidence enough that we do need to take a righteous stand. Is prayer enough when faith without works is dead? Jesus was all about the faith of little children and I just cannot fathom the idea of him sneering at a six-year old and saying, “there is no Santa Claus.” Even harder to comprehend is the idea that his father, the greatest father of all, would condone such behavior.

    There has to be a way to compromise before we are raising nothing but intellectual babies. However, in talking about compromise, both sides will end up hating the mediator more than each other. Perhaps this is why Jesus said, “blessed are the peacemakers….”

  10. eltonteng says:

    I believe Jesus would say: I’ve been gone for almost 2000 of your years, and nothing has changed!

  11. sjd says:

    I have just recently heard of another brother near to me fall into a sinful relationship, and actually carried on in it for many years. He was actually a former pastor. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 have gripped me.
    26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.
    27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

    I believe many have lost the understanding that we are running this race together or at least are not running for all to get the prize. Is there a true practical concern over others being “disqualified”? It is a sin to turn our heads the other way, to not get involved in the lives of others. (Galatians 6:1-3; James 5:19-20 and all the “one anothers”)
    James 4:17 (NIV) 17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

    Even for me not to become transparent and be open and accountable is an unloving thing for me to do, isolating myself from the body of Christ and their encouragement, admonishing…… The body needs to act like the body, with Christ being the head. Jesus would see the sin of us acting as if we were headless, each part of the body concerned about it’s own welfare.

  12. Gale L. Jarvis says:

    Good Morning everyone, Mart i am a day late again,and as i have read your thoughts, and the comments of others, and have prayed about these thoughts, the Holy Spirit has brought to my mind about the need to trust God no matter what, the death toll of i believe 67,000 people that lost their lives because David lost his trust of God, why God dealt with this one sin in this manner i have no idea, but the Holy Spirit has shown me, i must not stop trusting God to work out what ever situation i am in for good.
    I know my sin can, and probably will effect the lives of several people.
    Proverbs 3;5,6, must be my way of life, or i know where i came from, i would be right in the mix of the worlds way of living.
    Sin is pleasureable, but can never bring happiness, the words sound similar, but are 180 degrees apart.
    i must reason my decisions out with God before commiting to what i desire.
    David taking a census was not the sin, but the reason for doing it was, and God knew David’s heart, just as He knows mine.
    Forgive me if i got off the subject, but i believe the problem in Sodom was the same as it is today, not desiring for God to be God.

  13. Mart De Haan says:

    Rachel, see if my next post on the kingdom of God speaks to any of your concerns.

  14. agapelife says:

    I think Jesus would be grived. I read with interst what all have written. Yet It begins with me… there is an old Song, it only takes a spark to get a fire burning…. till I decide to let Jesus begin with, with out pointing a finger….. I to much like to sat around and say the world is goint to Hell in handbasket… yet leave it up to others to make the first step… Didn’t Jesus say if the hated me they will Hate you.
    It’s sad most of the letters of Paul were to the church to get right with God…. and this in but a few years after Jesus left…..

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