Have you ever struggled to know how to live out your faith in an environment that is increasingly hostile to the Christian faith? On the one hand, you don’t want to capitulate to the culture. But on the other hand, you don’t want to isolate yourself from the culture. We have been called to share the good news with the world. If we become just like the world, we lose our distinctive message. But if we isolate ourselves from the world, we cut ourselves off from the very people we are called to reach.
When the patriarch Abraham left his homeland, he took his nephew Lot along on the journey. The story of Lot provides an interesting case study in this area of cultural engagement. When given a choice, Lot chose to pasture his flocks in proximity to the ancient city of Sodom. Lot eventually moves into this thoroughly pagan city. And ultimately we find him sitting in the gate of city—an indicator that he was involved in the commerce and politics of the city. It seems a classic case of cultural compromise—except that Scripture gives us a very different assessment.
Lot is mentioned in two New Testament passages. Jesus mentioned Lot as one who was rescued when God brought judgment against the wicked city of Sodom (Luke 17:28-32). Peter stated clearly that God rescued Lot because he was “a righteous man” (2 Peter 2:7). Peter not only assesses Lot’s lifestyle but also his attitude and disposition. Lot was “tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard” (2 Peter 2:8). Lot did not grow callous or desensitized to sin. He cultivated a sensitive conscience and continued to be burdened for the people of this city. When Lot was told that the city was to be destroyed, he appealed to his sons-in-law but they would not take him seriously. It was presumably out of concern for others in the city that he lingered—until he could wait no longer.
If we are sinning just by living in a pagan city, we are all in trouble. Lot shows us that it is possible to live a righteous life—even while surrounded by wickedness. Lot challenges us cultivate a sensitive conscience toward sin and sinners. And Lot reminds us that God will protect his own—even in the midst of a hostile culture.
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