“Our Lord attracted sinners because He was different. They drew near to Him because they felt that there was something different about Him. And the world should see us to be different. This idea that you are going to win people to the Christian faith by showing them that after-all you are remarkably like them, is theologically and psychologically a profound blunder.”—D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
There is a very troubling scenario that played out in Sodom just before it was destroyed by God. Having been warned by a pair of angels that the Lord was going to drop a heavenly nuke on his city, Lot scrambled to get his family together to get them to safety. Among those he warned were the men betrothed to his daughters:
“Then the two men said to Lot, “Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place;for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the Lord that the Lord has sent us to destroy it.”Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, “Up, get out of this place, for the Lord will destroy the city.” But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.”
Genesis 19:12–14, NASB95)
Having seen the power of God demonstrated by the two angels’ blinding their attackers only a short time before, Lot knew that the warning was deadly serious. One can only imagine that a sense of panic has set in, and his urgency must have shown on his face and in his voice. When Lot went to the men who would marry his daughters, you would think that they could read the outward signs of his terror. But the text says “he appeared to [them]…to be jesting.” How could this be?
Earlier in Genesis, Lot’s uncle Abraham asked his nephew to choose the plot of land he wanted to live in, and Lot chose to set his tent near Sodom. At that point, Lot was outside the city and still living the life of a nomad and herdsman. But in Genesis 19, this has all changed. Lot lives in town, which may have meant that not only was he no longer living as a nomad in a tent, but that he has given up the life of a herdsman.
When he comes upon the two men who are angels preparing to stay the night in the town square, he asks them to come stay with him knowing that this wicked city is not safe. So, why had Lot settled there? And when the homosexual mob demanded that these men be turned over to be raped by them, he offered the mob his daughters in their place. What could have changed in Lot that would make him think that this was even an option?
All of these tie together when we come to the actions of the young men engaged to his daughters, the disobedience of his wife, and the later actions of his daughters. Something had gone terribly wrong in Lot’s family life. What could it be? We can’t be certain, but it appears that Lot had made several compromises along the way which are illustrated in his physical movement toward Sodom. His heart had made a journey as well, and it drew him further from God and closer to the ideals and ethics of Sodom. And worse, it had saturated the hearts of his family members.
The Apostle Paul observed a similar troubling element in some of the Christians in Corinth. To them he wrote:
“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.“Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me, ”Says the Lord Almighty.”(2 Corinthians 6:14–18, NASB95)
Reflecting on the continuous influence of the pagan nations on Israel, Paul alerted the Corinthians that the people of God are to continue to be set apart from those that are standing against our God. As with Israel, God walks among us and in the Church Age, even dwells within us. Should we then partner with darkness? Paul answers with the same thing that the Lord spoke to Israel–come out from among them!
Some misguided Christians have said that God intends for His people to be among the sinners of this world, and in saying this they have meant that we are to be non-judgmental and even participate with them so that we might befriend them and show them the love of God. But that is not what God called Israel to do, and it is not the practice of anyone in the New Testament–even Jesus! It is a lie to claim as one Christian brother told me, that Jesus “partied with the pagans.” To say this is to slander our Lord.
Instead, Jesus was kind, and was not willing to avoid or cast away those who were in their sin as they came to him seeking forgiveness and redemption. Jesus welcomed them. He was a friend of sinners, drunkards, and prostitutes because he demonstrated not only the love and patience of God, but also because he pointed them directly to their need to repent so they could be made right with God.
Those that believe that licentiousness and worldly living is a missional strategy and evangelistic method will sooner or later find themselves inching closer to Sodom, and will face a similar fate if they do not withdraw from that which is unclean. Love sends us into the sewage to seek the lost, but holiness draws us back to the Father’s side. As Lloyd-Jones says in the opening quote, may we shine as light in the darkness and by this show the world that we are profoundly different and may that difference from the world be attractive to those seeking a sweet respite from this dark world we live in.