I'm sure plenty of 'sins' come to mind when you think of Sodom and Gomorrah.
But do you know what Sodom's sins actually were?
Ezekiel 16:49-50 tells us:
"The sin of your sister Sodom was this: She lived with her daughters in the lap of luxury - proud, gluttonous and lazy. They ignored the oppressed and the poor. They put on airs and lived obscene lives..."
Proud, gluttonous and lazy. (Or arrogant, overfed and unconcerned in another version). Ignoring the oppressed and the poor.
It's not much of a stretch - in fact none at all - to apply these words to the Western world.
About 65% of Americans are overweight. Most western countries, though their wealth increases, give far less than 1% of their GNP to foreign aid. The richest 1/5 of the world consumes 2/3 of the worlds resources!
We are fat and indulgent while the rest of the world crumbles and starves.
We have so, so much and yet we do so little of consequence with it.
If this is not living obscene lives, I don't know what is.
We are so insulated and torpid when it comes to justice that we don't even realise what is happening most of the time, and even if something crosses our path asking for attention, we ignore it because we are either too busy or too overwhelmed with our own excess to deal.
Recently I discovered Kiva - it's been around for a whole but I just came across it. On Kiva you can lend money to people in developing countries through micro loans which have proved very effective in combating poverty. It's an amazingly easy way to help people - you can lend as little as $25 which will eventually, in most cases, be paid back to you, so you don't even have to give away your money.
They are currently running a 'promotion' where if you recruit new members they get a free $25 do lend to someone, and so do you for signing them up. So that is $50 that another sponsor has provided for you to lend.
I posted links on Facebook to tell my friends about it and recruit others because I thought it was so fantastic and so easy. A few were already on Kiva, but overall the response was staggeringly underwhelming. I managed to get one person to sign up so far - my husband.
I provided the direct link. All it required of people was 5 minutes to sign up. They didn't even have to risk any of their own money.
And yet nothing.
I get it that people might be busy, they might be coming back to it later, they might not have really understood what it was about and so just skipped over it...But when I post a cute picture of my daughter or a funny status, plenty of people like and comment - so I know they're out there, seeing my stuff, with time to expend....
I've done it myself. The number of times I've walked past homeless or charity collectors and looked the other way.
But if we are too busy and overwhelmed to take five minutes to give out someone else's money to help people, something is wrong.
Make sure that you don't get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-to-day obligations that you lose track of time and doze off, oblivious to God. Romans 13:11 MSG
We have so much and, relative to the rest of the world, we do so little to earn it. We have been given much: much is required in return. (Luke 12:48)
Helping others with what we have should be a priority not an afterthought.
We have got much time left - the night is nearly over (rom 13:12) - are we wasting it on self-indulgence, or are we doing something of consequence with what we have been given?
1 John 3:17
If a person owns the kinds of things we need to make it in the world but refuses to share with those in need, is it even possible that God’s love lives in him?
It's a challenge I take seriously.