What’s That Smell?

Don’t let the culture cause you to go soul-blind

If you’ve ever been the parent of a teenage son, chances are you’ve walked into his room and experienced the unpleasant teenage funk- a mixture of body odor, dirty clothes and Flaming Hot Cheetos™. For some reason that odor, so thick you can almost see it, is completely unnoticeable to your adolescent son.

“That smell!” you exclaim.

“What smell?” he asks with a look of bewilderment.

He’s not trying to ignore your observation intentionally. He’s just nose-blind. His room is where he lays his head (and his gym clothes). He adapted to the smell. The stench that was once so repulsive, magically disappeared – until you walked into the room and with a look of utter revulsion, bordering on nausea, and exclaimed, “what is that smell?!”

When I recall those days of teenage parenting, and all the olfactory experiences that often accompanied them, the familiar and tragic story of Sodom and Gomorrah comes to mind. The immorality of those cities was so great that when the angels met Lot in Sodom they said … The stench of the place has reached to heaven and God has sent us to destroy it.” Genesis 19:13 (TLB)

Only Abraham’s intercession for the righteous people who lived in the city prevented Lot and his family from being consumed by God’s judgement.

However, Lot appeared to be unaware of the seriousness of the situation until the men from the city attempted to break in his house so they could have sexual relations with God’s messengers. It’s difficult to imagine, but Lot offered his virgin daughters in an attempt appease the crowd.

What happened to Lot? I’ve heard various explanations that Lot learned to peacefully co-exist with sin, and that is certainly a valid insight. But I believe Lot became “soul-blind.” In other words, he became so numb to the spiritual condition of those living around him that it no longer alarmed him. It was just the way things were. Their actions and attitudes may have troubled him at first, but it wasn’t until God’s judgement was imminent that he realized the gravity of the situation.

As followers of Jesus I wonder if we’ve become “soul-blind?” Lostness surrounds us. So many people are dying and entering a Christ-less eternity, but the overwhelming majority of believers have grown so accustomed to the lostness that we subconsciously ignore the acute stench of our culture’s desperation. Oh, we “know” what happens to those who die apart from Christ. We believe God’s Word and we’ll pray for them on occasion, but the reality of their destiny does not stir us to action on a regular basis.

Contrast our soul blindness to Jesus’ response in Matthew 9, When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” He saw them. He didn’t look past them on his way to somewhere else. He noticed them. He felt compassion for them. The Message paraphrase says “when He looked over the crowds His heart broke.” He noticed their harassed and helpless condition and it affected Him.

A popular song several years ago had a lyric along the lines of “break our heart for what breaks yours.” That should be a prayer request for all Christ followers. Who does Jesus notice? Who captures His attention? Those who don’t know Him. The men, women and children who are harassed and hopeless and on the broad path that leads to destruction. Jesus is not ok with this – and we shouldn’t be either.

Have we been around lost people for so long that we hardly even notice them? We pass by them every day without even a thought, a check in our spirits or even a quick prayer for their salvation.

Is there a cure for soul-blindness? Yes. First, pay attention. There are lost people everywhere. Whether you live in a rural area or in the middle of a large city, there is no shortage of those who do not have a relationship with Jesus.

Be intentional. There’s no religious Febreze™ that can mask the stench of a decaying culture. We must intentionally share the soul-cleansing message of Jesus. Our tendency is to be about our business, but like Jesus, we must determine to be about our Father’s business – to seek and to save those who are lost (Luke 19). Get into the habit of praying for those people you pass every day. Ask God for the opportunity to get His truth inside those hearts and homes via efforts such as Here for You.

Remember what lies ahead for those who die without a relationship with Jesus. Judgement and hell are not pleasant subjects but the reality of both are certain. You will not pass a person who does not matter to Jesus. They should matter to us as well.

Soul-blindness is not good for us or for those we pass every day. Ask God to “break your heart for what breaks His.”