The Twin Cities

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April 30, 2018

2 Peter 2:6-9 (NLT)

6 Later, God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and turned them into heaps of ashes. He made them an example of what will happen to ungodly people. 7 But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. 8 Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day. 9 So you see, the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment.

CONSIDER THIS

Friday we said that the fruit of humanity’s rebellion was broken sexuality and violence. Adam and Eve were made in God’s image, but as soon as they ate the fruit they “suddenly felt shame at their nakedness” (Genesis 3:7). The very first consequence of sin in the world was shame in our identity. 

Then, in the very next chapter, Cain kills his brother Abel, and his blood cried out from the ground. The response to living out of a broken identity is violence in all it’s forms.

Broken sexuality and violence. The two are so close they could be twins. 

Friday we saw Peter highlight the next time we see the twins, at the flood. There the fallen angels had sex with human women, and the God declared that all living creatures filled the earth with violence. 

Today Peter takes the point further by bringing up the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Remember the story from Genesis 19, when Lot welcomes two angels into his house for dinner? The focus is usually on the part about the broken sexuality when men from around the city surround Lot’s house: “Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out so we can have sex with them” (v.19:5). 

But there’s another reason God “turned them into heaps of ashes,” and it’s found in Ezekiel 16:49, “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.”

I would argue that pride and gluttony to the point of ignoring the poor is a form of violence against humanity. And there are other examples of these twin cities of broken sexuality and violence Peter could have drawn from:

Like when King David abused his authority and committed adultery with Bathsheba, and after she became pregnant he arranged to have her husband killed.

Or the time King Josiah read the long-lost Law of the Lord and had to put an end to prostitution in the Temple and child sacrifices on the altar. 

Even the Sermon on the Mount has Jesus saying six times, “You’ve heard the Law of Moses say…” Five of them deal with broken sexuality and violence (two about adultery and three about murder, revenge, and not hating our enemies). 

Even Paul addresses this theme in his letter to the Colossians: “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires.” (v. 3:5) And then, “[N]ow is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language” (v. 3:8).

Paul is not simply coming up with a list of vices. He’s specifically addressing the twins of broken sexuality and violence in many of their forms. 

So when we look around us today, it’s easy to bemoan that nothing has really changed. In fact, we’d be silly to think that only recently has culture gone downhill. Broken sexuality and violence have always been the twin cities were fallen humanity has made its home. 

But there is good news. Peter says Lot was fed up, and God rescued him, because, “the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials” 

And what is that rescue? It is the grace of Jesus Christ we find in the Sacraments. 

Broken sexuality is really “looking for love in all the wrong places.” It is the shame of our broken identity. God rescues us in our baptism, where he gives us back the identity we lost in the fall and says to us, “You are my beloved son or daughter, and you bring me great joy.”

And then he answers the problem of violence through the Eucharist. When Jesus says, “This is my body broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me,” and then, “Forgive them, Daddy, because they don’t know what they’re doing.” 

These twin sacraments of holy identity and holy love free us from the brokenness and sin of the twin cities. Yes, we’re fed up. But God has rescued us through the grace of Jesus Christ, and then calls us to invite others to move out of the twin cities and into the promised land. 

THE PRAYER

Heavenly Father, thank you for rescuing me. Help me to always live out of my identity as your beloved child. And may that free me to lay down my life and love others as Christ has loved me. In Jesus name. Amen.

THE QUESTION

Where have you found yourself living in these twin cities? Where have you seen, or do you need to see, your identity in your baptism and your response in the Eucharist? What is the Holy Spirit possibility for your today?

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Omar Rikabi is a United Methodist Pastor serving in North Texas. When not telling stories, Omar likes to watch movies with his wife Jennifer, read books with his three daughters, and work in the kitchen cooking and grilling for family and friends. You follow him on Twitter @omarrikabi or visit his blog omarrikabi.com

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