The obvious, sometimes things are right in front of our face, yet we miss them; we fail to see what is so clear to others. That tool on the bench we just can’t seem to find, a book on the counter we are searching for; even sunglasses atop our heads. Once after searching for my iPhone, I announced to my kids that I would pay $1 to whomever found it first (not my proudest parenting moment.) After quite a bit of effort, one of my kids came to me to say they couldn’t find it anywhere, then paused to ask if that was my phone in my hand? (Yet another not-so-proud moment in parenting; although rumor has it, I’m not the only one who has ever sent their children in search of an item they were holding.)
It was just so plainly obvious, to everyone, except the person to whom it mattered the most.
I fear that perhaps, we in the Church, have been oblivious to the obvious as well.
Ezekiel 16:49 (NKJV) warns, “Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: she and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”
Ummmmm? Excuse me? What was the iniquity of Sodom? Even when Scripture has clearly laid it out for us, do we ever consider this side of her corruption?
The list is long and condemning. She was incredibly proud; proud of what she had done and of what she was currently accomplishing. She had an excess of supplies and a surplus of time, yet she didn’t extend help to those who needed it the most.
She was much like the fool warned about in Luke 12:16-21, who upon realizing his abundant supply of goods, chose to pull down his barns so that he might build even greater ones. Sadly, in his busyness, he failed to recognize that very night his soul would be required of him.
Scripture explains, “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God” (Luke 12:21.)
How often have we viewed the people of Sodom and Gomorrah as being so unlike us; so much worse than we are? Perhaps, we have misjudged the heart of Sodom. Upon closer inspection it may shockingly resemble our own.
Is the Church, namely the American church, full of pride, abundance, and ease? Are we seeking to strengthen the hand of the poor and the needy, or do we just send some leftover crumbs their way?
Suffering human beings are a vast mission field.
“To truly follow Christ is to set forth on a journey of ever expanding benevolence, from the narrow limits of familiar territory into the dark and unfamiliar world of the oppressed and suffering.” Dr. Diane Langberg
Maybe this is a journey we are unwilling to take.
People are hurting and the Church has the answer, unless what we are clinging to is a lifeless version of what Christ is offering.
In John chapter 20, on the first day of the week, when Mary Magdalene rushed to the garden tomb, she had no expectation she would find a risen Savior. She asks the “supposed” gardener where the body had been laid so that she could take Him away.
Mary would have accepted a corpse. She was asking for the wrong thing; she was asking for too little. Sometimes, we also ask for too little. We settle for small pieces of Jesus, when He wants us to have all of Him.
Are we, modern church, content with a corpse? Do we sit by, surrounded by all of our “stuff;” yet smelling of decay and corruption? Have we acknowledged that it is lifeless fingers that cling so tightly closed? Are we grasping at our abundance?
Now is not the time to ask too little of ourselves, our churches, our people.
Martin Luther challenges, “God doesn’t need our good works, but our neighbor does.”
Of course buildings are good, refurbishing facilities is fine; running a ministry does require a certain amount of upkeep. In Autopsy of a Deceased Church, Thom S. Rainer warns that when a church begins to focus inward and forgets to reach outward, that church has already begun steps towards its demise.
May we pause and ask God to show us if we have the heart of Sodom, a heart of consumption that turns aside from those in need. Then, may we choose to abundantly bless as we have been blessed indeed.
Kimberly Coombes - Lead Musician
Southern Hills Church - Las Vegas
For more blogs from Kimberly please visit setinsilver.org