Gen 18:29-33 Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” (30) Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” (31) He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” (32) Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” (33) And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.
The people of Sodom were thoroughly wicked (although not as wicked as the people of the towns in the days of Jesus, Luke 10:13). But Abraham thought that surely there must be a few righteous people there and so his “countdown” prayer from 50 to 10 began. It turns out that only Lot and a few family members were to be rescued. Only Lot. Not even ten.
Think similarly of the evil in Noah’s day. Not even ten.
Now, not all of these wicked people were the kind we call RASNs, although I suppose some aspect of at least one of the 4 categories (revilers, abusers, sociopaths, narcissists) were evidenced in them. But the point I want us to see is how widespread, and one might even say, “universal,” wicked people were…and are.
RASNs in other words are not rare. In EVERY one of the 4 churches I have pastored, they were present. I didn’t fully understand it at the time and I wouldn’t for many years, but I know now that these people who assault with their words, who are defined by a stunning mentality of entitlement and superiority, who have no conscience and no love, who only use others to supply there demand for adoration…are anything but rare. They are everywhere. They are, with rare exception, in every local church parading themselves in disguise. The grief and damage they cause is beyond measuring.
Just think a bit about how, in our naivete and wrong-thinking, we so often lay a foundation and environment for these RASNs to operate. What do we reward in the church? What measures do we use for “success”? What kind of people do we place into leadership positions? When we get these things wrong, we cultivate fertile ground for wickedness to flourish. We create a structure, a ladder if you will, for evil men and women to climb to the top. That is precisely how Rome ended up with a Pope. But there are many, many mini-popes operative even in evangelical, Protestant churches today. They may hold official offices, or just as commonly choose to operate covertly and “unofficially.”
We must open our eyes and without partiality apply the truths which expose these evil ones who creep in among us:
- Devoid of love
- Produce rotten fruit
- Focus upon external rules and work to enforce those rules
Here comes, for instance, the new fellow and his family. He is gifted in a number of areas. He is a champion of sound doctrine. He is a talented professional in his career. We are excited about having such a new addition to our church. But…
…Over time there are a number of caution signs which we should be seeing. We see them, but we don’t see them. We blow them off. And as we do, such a person works and works to establish his or her own kingdom. We become slaves, suckers for flattery. Those of you who have been in a marriage with such a person have experienced these very things in that setting.
RASNs are not rare! And I have concluded that with extremely rare exceptions, any local church today that is, let’s say 100 or 200 people in size – has capitulated to one or more of them. Think on this very, very carefully. Let’s say that you were a new pastor and your first assignment was…Sodom. What would/should be the size of your church? 50? 45? 30? 20? 10? Or maybe just one and a couple of his family members. Apply this question to Noah’s time. What would be the size of your church if you without compromise preached God’s Word and confronted counterfeits? 50? 45? 30? 20? 10? The answer is, eight. That’s all. Just eight and before Noah was married and had children, the answer was one. Maybe two.
And what do you suppose would be the evaluation of your pastoral peers or of the leaders of your denomination, if you were a member of one (I reject denominations now, but I save the reasons for another article)? I can tell you. You would be marked as a failure. It’s your fault. You are a failure. You haven’t worked on a “vision.” You didn’t “trust the Lord” for 50 new baptisms. Whatever you are preaching isn’t working.
RASNs are not rare. I certainly am not saying that a local church which is very small in numbers is necessarily free of this evil, but I can tell you that a church with a large number of members (I will let you define “large.” My definition is…more than a few!)…a church with a large number of members in our day is evidencing the symptoms of …what shall we call the disease…foolish Galatianism. “O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?”