Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ruthless Mercy: Thoughts on Sodom and Gomorrah

A different perspective on the usual story.

Genesis 19:16
When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand, and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters, and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. 

Sodom and Gomorrah.  That’s the story in Genesis 19 where this little verse is tucked away.  Sodom and Gomorrah, the story identified with justice and wrath.  God’s punishment on a people who had mocked and defiled Him.  In fact, I believe that this passage is one where many (believers and unbelievers alike) are caught in a web of spiritual and philosophical confusion.  A loving God choosing to act in ruthless judgment. 

It’s easy to focus on that wrath.  It’s easy to allow it to taint every part of who we had believed God to be.  It’s easy to get lost in our own preconceived notions of who God should be, rather than come to terms with who He really says He is.  A God of justice…but most astonishingly, a God of ruthless mercy. 

You see, hidden beneath the fire and brimstone of this chapter, one finds a seed of truth burying its roots into the foundation of His character.  Merciful.  Severely and wholly merciful.  Ruthlessly merciful. 

The evidence for this is clearly seen in God’s interaction with Lot.  Though Lot was himself engrossed in sin, though he was so quick to compromise, though he was living a life with a divided heart- trying to please both God and man; Lot was still under the mercy of his Lord.  Even in the moments of his hesitation, even in the moments of relapsing back into the sin which so easily entangled, God was merciful, and because of His mercy He led them to safety. 

What was the difference between the sin of Lot and of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah?  What was it about Lot that made God so apt to look favorably upon him, to save him?  What was it about him that made him rest under the mercy of God?  The answer is absolutely nothing.  There was nothing about Lot that made him worthy, no, nothing but the saving grace of his God.  A grace that has been offered to all.  A grace that will only enter into the lives of those who will allow it, those who will accept it. 

It’s comforting to know that.  It’s comforting because I too, like Lot, have my moments of hesitation.  Moments where the temptations around me entice and allure me.  Moments where I willfully compromise.  I’m grateful that through it all, I rest under the assurance of a ruthless mercy.  A mercy that loves me so much it will not allow me to remain where I am.  A mercy that calls me out of my destructive ways and into safety.  A mercy that grasps my hesitating and stubborn hand, and leads me gently into a place of rest. 

Thank you Father, for your ruthless mercy.
For reflection:
  • Is there an area in your life right now in which you are "hesitating" to take the next step that God has called you to take?  What is holding you back? 
  • Are you, like Lot, living a life of compromise in certain parts of your life? Who are the people who are keeping you there?  What are those things that you find it difficult to part with?
  • Have you found it difficult to accept God's undeserved grace and ruthless mercy in your life?  What are the lies that are keeping you from entering into that forgiveness and freedom?

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