Last week, we began to delve into the idea of living in Babylon as opposed to living in Jerusalem. For many believers, especially those who are a little bit older, this is a difficult thing to consider. Throughout most of their lives our culture has been rather accepting of the Christian worldview, affording it preferential treatment. In the last generation, however, we have seen a seismic shift away from those moorings and towards a more postmodern morality, where the guiding principle is that there are no absolute principles whatsoever. Granted, the seeds of this revolution were planted a long time ago, but its bitter fruit is becoming ripe. The result is that our culture has quickly ceased to be a Jerusalem (where the Christian worldview is prevalent) and bears more in common with Babylon (where the Christian worldview is rejected). Naturally, such a shift changes how we engage our culture and how we are able to live out of lives of faith.
One of the challenges that we face as believers in Babylon is whether we will remain obedient to God’s Word even when it stands in stark contrast to the changing mores of the world around us. Despite the repeated attempts of those who are on the left side of the theological spectrum to say otherwise, God’s Word is very clear about what it condemns as sin. One must either distort or ignore the text in order to give biblical approval to sexually immoral lifestyles, whether they be homosexual or heterosexual. To suggest that marriage is anything besides the union of one man and one woman for life is to refuse the clear teaching of the entirety of Scripture. We make plenty of excuses for pursuing a materialistic lifestyle, when the Bible makes clear that we must not be tied to earthly things.
In each of these cases (and many, many more!), the culture of our modern Babylon pressures us into conformity with it, or at the very least, to keep quiet about what we believe. We hear the taunts – old-fashioned, out of touch, bigoted, hateful, phobic – and they can wear heavily on us. No one relishes being taunted for what they believe. Many, unfortunately, will slip under the pressure and either change their beliefs so that they conform to the modern morality or they will simply not say anything at all even when they know they should. One of the major factors leading to such compromise is the lack of solid understanding of biblical doctrine in many believers today. Churches have abandoned doctrinal teaching because they believe it to be divisive, boring, or irrelevant to people today. Too many have replaced doctrine with distractions, opting to entertain the goats rather than equip the sheep. In the end, the flock of God has been left woefully unprepared to answer the questions of a culture that is increasingly hostile to the faith.
When we think of those Israelites in Babylon, we think of those who were firm in their faith: the Daniels; the Shadrachs, Meshachs, and Abed-Negos; and the Ezekiels. That strength was anchored in their knowing the Word. Consider those three Hebrew youth at the table of King Nebuchadnezzar. They did not opt for a vegetarian diet because it was the hipster thing to do; they did so because they knew any of the meat would have been sacrificed first to idols and would have been unclean. Daniel knew he needed to pray to God no matter what the law stated. These positions came from the solid understanding of God’s Word by these men, not because of some feelings they had. When Babylon insisted they capitulate, these men stood firm (no matter the cost) and gave the reason why. Can you? Just something to think about…