Instead of a Show

One more thought on our previous subject.

When Abraham is told of Sodom and Gomorrah’s impending destruction, he asks God if He will kill the righteous along with the wicked.

Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just? (emphasis mine)

Gen 18:23-25

Abraham is appalled that God would even consider destroying the righteous with the wicked and proceeds to bargain with Him. He starts with fifty, which by any reasonable guess is less than 1% of the population. In other words, Abraham is willing to let the 99% wicked go free in order to save the 1% righteous. As it turns out, God agrees with him.

But that, of course, is just where Abraham begins. He whittles down the number until he gets to five, at which point he quits. Using the same (very low) population guess as above, that means he’s asked God to let the 99.9% wicked go free in order to save the .1% righteous. And God agrees.

The conclusion that both Abraham and God reach is that justice should always be biased towards the righteous. Way biased. And that is the way most working justice systems are built.1

In the current2 rhetoric about refugees, the call is to do the exact opposite. Those who profess the view that refugees (either Syrian or all) should be shut off are saying that they would rather that 99.99999% be harmed on the slight chance that .00001% are guilty. Again, I’m not surprised when the world at large goes off the deep end, it seems to be what we do every three or four days.

But for Christians to fall into that same thinking is deeply concerning to me. We have to think differently. We have to act differently. We should be arguing with Abraham, not against him.

I’ll leave you with these words from Jon Foreman.

You’ve turned your back on the homeless
And the ones who don’t fit in your plan
Quit playing religion games
There’s blood on your hands

Instead let there be a flood of justice
An endless procession of righteous living, living
Instead let there be a flood of justice
Instead of a show


  1. This concept has been quoted down the years by various people involved in the law, most famously by William Blackstone and Benjamin Franklin. See this Wikipedia article.
  2. And past–we had much of this same conversation after 9/11.

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