Tuesday, January 10, 2006

#28 Are You Disturbed, Distressed and Tormented?

#28 Are You Disturbed, Distressed and Tormented?
January 10, 2006
"...Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) - " (2 Peter 2: 7-8)

Lot lived in Sodom. Rabbinic writings tell us that the inhabitants of Sodom were nasty, depraved and uncompromisingly greedy. Classical Jewish writings affirm that the primary crimes of the Sodomites were, among others, terrible and repeated economic crimes, both against each other and to outsiders. Traditional theologians and bible scholars believe that Sodom's sins were primarily homosexuality and rape. Ezekiel 16: 49 tells us, "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen."

The Bible tells us that Lot was a righteous man. In the Greek, the word 'righteous' means equitable in character or act; by implication, holy and innocent. What a horrible place to live for a holy and innocent man! But eerily, his land seems so much like the one in which we live today. I am not writing today to list the wrongs of America and the coming judgement. I am writing today to search our own hearts to see if we, like Lot, are distressed and tormented by what we see. We are the righteous. Not because of anything we have done, but because of what Jesus did on the Cross. Because of His death and because He took our punishment, we are the "righteousness of God in Christ." (See 2 Corinthians 5:21) So, do we care? Are we, like Lot, disturbed or distressed by what we see going on around us?

The 21st century Christian is a busy person. With work, school, children, social activities, church attendance and ministry responsibilities, do we have time to care? I submit to you that we must! Let's sit in the gateway of our Sodom (see Genesis 19: 1) and take a look at what's going on. Maybe if we take the time to watch, we will be disturbed enough to be distressed, distressed enough to be tormented and tormented enough to take some type of action.

The United States has one of the highest abortion rates among developed countries. (Alan Guttmacher Institute, Facts in Brief, New York, NY, 1995) At current rates, an estimated 43 percent of American women will have at least one abortion by the age of 45. Over one million unborn babies are slaughtered every year. I use the word slaughtered here because that is the word my Bible uses when it tells me to "Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, "But we knew nothing about this," does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?" (Proverbs 24: 11-12) God knows. We know. And He knows that you know. Are we disturbed, distressed, tormented enough to do something about it?

Half the world lives on less than two dollars a day. According to UNICEF, 30,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death. (State of the World?s Children, 2005, UNICEF). That is about 210,000 children each week, or just under 11 million children under five years of age, each year. In 2004, 37.0 million people were in poverty here in the good old US of A, up 1.1 million from 2003. It only takes a few clicks of the mouse to be aware of these frightening statistics. Ronald Reagan once said that the war on poverty was won by poverty. Do we get disturbed when we see the homeless begging for a dollar or do we worry about where he will spend our dollar? Do we feed the poor or judge that they like being on welfare? Wall Street journalist Gerald Wisz has argued, "Government cannot do what the church must." (National Reform Association Newsgram, December 1993) My Bible speaks to me again on this issue..."Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." (Proverbs 31:8-9) The Bible contains more than 300 verses on the poor, social justice, and God's deep concern for both. Are we disturbed, distressed, and tormented enough to do something about it?

The Bible tells me that God created man and woman. Male and female He created them. (Genesis 1: 27b) He told them to be fruitful and multiply. And that "a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." (Genesis 2: 24) This was the creation of the first family. There is an assault today on the family, the way that God created it to be. In the name of political correctness and tolerance, I am asked to call evil good and good evil. My Bible tells me that homosexuality is an abomination to the Lord (See Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13). I cannot call that good! Isaiah 5: 20 says "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." Are we disturbed, distressed, and tormented enough to do something about it?

Lest I keep you reading forever, I ask you to take the time to acquaint yourself with the issues of judicial tyranny, racial hatred that exists just as strongly today as it did in years past and the rise of Islam and the threat that it truly is. It's a busy place at the city gates, isn't it?
Are you just a little disturbed... distressed... tormented? I hope so!! What will you do?

We can choose the way of passivity and wait for fire and brimstone to fall on the world as in the days of Sodom. While there is a day of judgement coming and I believe it is soon, we must act today. I think that in the closing words of the book of Jude we may be able to find our plan.

Jude, a brother of Jesus and James, tells us that in the last days there will be those who have a desperate lack of spirituality. They will scoff. To scoff is to act impiously towards holy things, and scoffers do not obey the law of the Spirit, but follow the law of fleshly passion. He first tells us to "build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit" (v.20). This we do in contrast to the scoffers. Not as self-righteous, exclusive persons but as those following Christ, His Word and His way. Build yourself up in the faith. Study, learn, grow , pray. Get empowered by the Holy Spirit and seek God for what He would have you do. Ask Him to break your heart with what breaks His. Ask Him to get you pumped up with what gets Him pumped up. Ask Him to disturb, distress and torment you with what does the same to Him.

Second, "keep yourself in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life." (v. 21) Live in the love of God...expect eternal life in Christ. And because you are living in the awareness of God's love for you...love others. That love will cause us to be merciful (v.22) and snatch others from the fire and save them (v. 23). We will love...we will care...we will have the Christian attitude of mercy towards the sinner, coupled with abhorrence of his sin.

I'm not asking you to find a cause or join a group. That would be good in some cases but our eyes need to be open to what is going on right around us. Be alert, be aware...listen to people's stories..hear their needs. We must come out of our own self-contained lives. Make friends with that pregnant teenager who doesn't know what choice to make. The world is laughing at her and calling her a tramp. Love her. Support her. Lead her to make the right decision. Buy a meal for that homeless man that you see every day on your way to work. Don't try and figure out how he got there...perhaps you can figure out how to get him out. Start a relationship with someone you know who is living a sinful lifestyle. Not by judging, but by being their friend. Never condone the sin but love the person just like Jesus did. Help a family that is struggling to make it on public assistance. Most are caught in a trap and don't want to be there. The Lord puts people in our lives everyday. He sets us up to be a blessing. Are we alert enough? Are we disturbed enough? Are we tormented enough? Are we watching who passes by our city gates, our Sodom? We can't save the whole world, but each one of us can reach another one, and one by one we can really make a difference.

Disturbed, distressed and tormented,

Donna Schultz

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