Have you ever tried to change someone’s mind? Was it easy or difficult? Just look at the current day politics to see how divisive we have become. Too many times people are talking past each other, instead of stopping long enough to listen and be heard. If this is the case, no wonder many of us struggle to share our faith. We may believe we can talk until we are blue in the face, only to have the other person completely ignore what we just said. It can be extremely difficult to change a person’s mind. Have you ever felt like it was that way with God? Kind of like your parent saying “because I said so.” We are told that God is in complete control and when we give our life over to Him, we are subject to His whim and will. Too many even look at us as pawns to be used by God. None of these are biblical or healthy ways of looking at the relationship we have the opportunity to have with Him. God doesn’t ‘use’ us, rather He invites us to join Him in the work He is doing. God is our Father, we are His sons and daughters. He looks at us like His children as would any parent. So if you were a parent, would you want your child to say “daddy, please use me?” Or your daughter to say, “Oh, dad use me for your will.” In so many ways it is just wrong.
God actually wants us to have a healthy loving relationship with Him. Certainly, He wants us to obey Him and His commands because He knows best what is good for us. He wants us to join Him in the work He is doing, as co-laborers because it will bring us closer to Him and it will be a blast. But He is also completely open to being influenced by us.
In Genesis 18:23 Abraham asked God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if there are fifty righteous people. God agrees. Over the course of the next few verses, Abraham negotiates with God to spare Sodom if there are ten righteous people. So Abraham successfully negotiated with God by reminding Him that He would not destroy the righteous along with the unrighteous.
In Genesis 19:18 Lot changes God’s mind from destroying all of the cities of the plain. Zoar was one of the five cities, along with Sodom that was targeted for destruction. However, Lot changed God’s mind by asking Him to allow him to go to Zoar instead of the mountains. This was because Lot was righteous and God granted his request which saved a whole city.
In Exodus 32:7 God gets angry at the Israelites because they made a golden calf and started to worship it while Moses was getting the ten commandments. God was going to destroy all of them, calling them “a stiff-necked people.” Moses intervened through the relationship they shared and changed God’s mind. Moses did this by reminding Him that the Egyptians would like nothing more than God destroying the slaves they just released. He also reminded God about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the promises He made to them. So Moses was able to calm God’s anger against the Israelites. He actually did it a few more times.
In I Chronicles 15 David actually went against God’s command and moved the ark of the Lord to the City of David. David thought it was a good idea so he just did it. Since God knew David was a man after His heart, He was willing to let David change His mind on where the ark of the Lord should reside. David also went against God when he told the priests and musicians to worship God 24/7. Before David, only a select few could go into the Holy of Holies, and even then some of them died because they were not cleansed. Because God was so happy with David and because David had the mind of God, He told him to do “whatever he had in mind” (I Chronicles 17:2).
There are others in the old testament that also were successful at changing God’s mind. Before you argue that it was only in the Old Testament, we have an example where Mary changed Jesus’ mind. In John 2 Jesus is at a wedding with Mary and others. On the third day of the celebration, they run out of wine. At this point, Jesus has not done any public miracles. Mary finds out and tells Jesus to make more wine. Even when Jesus protests, Mary just ignores him. Mary was favored by God, so she also had an ability to change His mind and start His ministry.
All of these have a common theme. Have a good relationship with God, have the mind of Christ and you too can influence God’s decisions. By having a relationship with Jesus, we can influence Him, imagine how we can influence the people around us by having a good relationship. The heart of Saving Sodom is about establishing life-changing, love-filled, respect-giving relationships with others. It is from that position we can have the most influence to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to people’s doorsteps.