Is lasting spiritual influence an inside or an outside job? The answer may surprise you.
What a study in contrasts we have in Genesis 18 and 19! Abraham lives near Hebron, the place that means “fellowship,” and has the Lord over for dinner! Imagine that! They discuss a matter of mutual interest—the plight of the wicked city of Sodom. The Lord tells him His plan, and, as He leaves to head to Sodom, Abraham lays claim to this hope: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (18:25). Meanwhile, Lot, who already has been rescued once, when stolen away with all the other inhabitants of the cities of the plain, has moved right back in. No doubt he thought he could be an influence for good there, and actually ended up “sitting in the gate of Sodom” (19:1), probably functioning as a judge. But who actually had the greatest influence with Sodom? The man in fellowship with God, sitting under the tree at Mamre, and interceding for the city? Or the man who thought he could work within the system to effect change? When God came looking through Lot’s hometown, He couldn’t find even nine other men whom Lot had influenced towards righteousness. Even his own sons-in-law thought he must be joking when he warned them about coming judgment. And, as we see in the next lesson, it’s a LOT worse than that, if you’ll excuse the play on words. Here’s the hard lesson: If you try to work within the system, all you end up doing is advancing the system. What is God’s advice? “Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come” (Heb 13:12-14). Fellowship with God, not friendship with the world, is the true path of influence.