Saturday, May 30, 2015

Living in Babylon - Part Two

This article is the second part of a series.  Read Living in Babylon Part One here.

Exiled from home and living in unfamiliar territory, the Jews experience awful changes and must adapt to living in a foreign land.  While some voices quickly tell them that God will soon deliver them, the prophet Jeremiah sends a true message from God . . . 

Trust God where you are, seek God where we are, and bless the place where we are.
He challenges them to plan to stay a long time in their place of exile, outlining how to succeed as a faithful person in difficult circumstances.  In short, Jeremiah tells the people how to live as godly people in Babylon.  In doing so, he gives believers today lessons about how to live through our own experiences of exile.

Your exile maybe a child leaving home or the death of a parent.  It could be the loss of a job or a move into a new state.  It could involve the loss of income and the loss of a friend.  Or, it could involve asking, "How does a Christian stay faithful in the midst of a society that resembles Babylon more than Zion?  How do I trust God in an American society that systematically rejects God?"

7 Lessons for Godly People in Babylon

1.  God has you where you are, so trust God’s sovereignty (1-4).
Life may take you where you do not like.  If so, Jeremiah challenges the people t see the change as coming from God.  Choose to see God in this difficult situation.  Choose to trust, even when life stinks.

Jesus said that He knows His sheep by name.  That means He knows you.  He knows your name.  You are still on His radar screen.

Cecil Murphey shares, Why did Jeremiah stress that God had taken them into exile?  The Jews needed to know that even in the terrible ordeals they had undergone, and the traumas that still lay ahead, God has brought it all about.  And God has plans beyond the immediate defeat.  They didn’t end up in a foreign land by accident or because God blinked.  – Cec  Murphey

2.  Seek God where you are (12-14).

We have to seek God before the circumstances changes.  Choose to find God in spite of your disappointment and confusion.  Again, Cec Murphey shares that we have to find God in Babylon: " I had to discover God in the place where I was right then – deep inside the darkness.  I had to come to terms with my situation.  I felt God was mandating to me to make the most of it. I had to accept my circumstances as they were."

In the midst of change and turmoil, orient yourself to God.

When I moved from Greenville to Clinton in 1991 as a freshman in college, it almost amazed to me to discover that God was just as much in Clinton as He had been in Greenville.  The one constant was that I could seek God every day in my Bible reading, prayer, and personal worship.  He was the same.

3.  Build a life in the present (5-7).
Choose to bless the place and the people where you live.  Be a proactive agent of blessing.  Jeremiah tells the people to build houses, plant gardens, and stay there until they have grandchildren. 

Choose to build a life where you are.  Invest in  your children and the next generation.  Seek peace for the place where you live.  Pray for others. 

Get involved with blessing other people - not just being consumed in self-pity.

Don't sit at home, watch TV Land, and feel sorry for yourself, isolating yourself from the world.  Connect with people.  Mentor a teenager.  Have the children of your church over for a party at your house.  Teach - or at the least get involved with - a Sunday School class.  Volunteer. 

Today in America, it is easy for Christians to want to hide.  You may want to just retreat to church-world and wait for the rapture.  Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcy challenged Christians to get involved in their world in their book How Now Shall We Live? 

The only task of the church, many fundamentalists and evangelicals have believed, is to save as many lost souls as possible from a world literally going to hell.   But this implicit denial of a Christian worldview is unbiblical and is the reason we have lost so much of our influence in the world.  Salvation does not consist of simply freedom from sin; salvation means being restored to the task we were given in the beginning – the job of creating culture. 

We are meant to proceed to the restoration of all God’s creation, which includes private and public virtue; individual and family life; education and community; work; politics, and law; science and medicine; literature, art, and music.  This redemptive goal permeates everything we do, for there is no invisible dividing line between sacred and secular.

Jeremiah exhorted the Jews in exile in a similar fashion.  Babylon may be bad, but they need to bless the place.  The customs may be different, but they can learn to live abundant lives in that place.  The place may feel unfamiliar and the king pagan, but they are to be agents of blessing.

Franklin Graham recently challenged Christians in our nation: Can you imagine what a difference it would make if Christians ran for every office at all levels across our country – city council, school board, Mayor? We need to get involved and take a stand for biblical values and morals before it's too late. 

You may wish you were somewhere else doing something else with someone else at some other season in your life.  But you are not.  You are here in Babylon.  Choose to bless others.
Your family needs you.  Your church needs you.  Your community needs you.

end of part two

Go to Living in Babylon part three here

- quotes from Cecil Murphey come from his book When God Turned Off the Lights


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