TODAY’S READING: Genesis 19–21
God will destroy what is wicked (Gen. 19:13, 14). God will consume and punish (v. 15). God will rain fire and brimstone on the earth (v. 24). God will turn disobedient housewives into a pillar of salt (v. 26). And God will do this even when men in all of our fallen intelligence protest: “Surely God must be joking! Surely hell is not real. God is not angry, and punishment is not eternal. Surely God is more balanced than that” (see v. 14). But God is not balanced. Neither is He moderate, and neither is missions. Missions talks about hell and heaven, judgment and mercy. Missions understands it is loving to warn and hateful to pretend that God’s extremes cancel each other out.
Those who have not grown up in a communal culture cannot fathom Lot offering up his daughters to rapists to protect his guests. Those who have not grown up in an individualist culture cannot fathom how you would ever let those you to whom you have offered hospitality lack or suffer. It was not that Lot hated his daughters. It was that Lot loved both honor (his family) and hospitality (his guests) with extreme passion. When both honor and hospitality were threatened, Lot was stuck in an impossible dilemma, so God rescued Him in mercy (vv. 11,16). Lot’s problem was that fear led him to folly as did a little fermented wine (vv. 32–35). Abraham, too, allowed fear to almost bring harm on the ones he was meant to love (Sarah) and bless (Abimelech). Abimelech was a Philistine (21:32), a righteous one (20:4), and of God-endorsed integrity (v. 6), but he almost lost his life (v. 3) and all hope of children (v. 17) due to Abraham’s fear.
Four thousand years later, the sons of Abraham are still afraid of the Philistines, and through our fears we damage both them and their children. Abraham’s had a fearful reluctance to tell the truth—because of what the truth would cost him. That reluctance almost led to the death of others, others who ask in essence: “Why do you hate us so much? Your lack of truth is actually a lack of love that leads to our death!” (see v. 9). Our reluctance to tell the gospel truth (due to the fear of what it will cost us) still leads to death— for every two seconds of silence from the church, someone globally dies eternally.
Missions is extreme. It guarantees death and life. If we don’t speak the truth, the unreached die. If we do speak the truth, we die (minimally to self, possibly more), but Philistines live. We shockingly stand with Lot knowing that either our guests or our family will pay an impossible price. And an extreme God steps in to help us. Our sinless and holy God died for sinners, morally declaring it’s not that big of a deal for us sinners to die for others, too. Not if we believe in extreme love. Not if we believe in an extreme God. If the blessing of Father Abraham is going to “life” the unreached of Eritrea, some sons and daughters of Abraham will have to love them enough to speak some truth and pay some cost.