Living in Babylon
If you are a Christian, you have probably read the bible. If you have read the bible, then you have probably sought to apply it to your life. And if you have sought to apply the bible to your life, you have probably been confused. I mean, where do you even start? The life of an American living in 2017 looks much much much much different than an ancient Jewish farmer. If you've grown up in church you have probably been given a place to start. And that place usually looks something like one of the following.
- Joseph had a lot of bad things happen to him but it turned out that in the end it was all used by God for the good of his people. So if you're having a hard time, then trust God.
- God told Abraham to kill his son, and Abraham went through with it, or would have if God hadn't intervened. Trust God and have faith like Abraham and God will bless you.
- The Israelites whined and complained in the desert and God dealt harshly with them. Don't whine and complain like the Israelites.
- Paul and the other disciples faced persecution but did not deny the name of Christ. Therefore when you are belittled for your faith do not deny Christ.
There is a pattern here. The pattern is that each one of these examples asks you to relate to the main actors in the story. And for the majority of the examples they are an oppressed persecuted minority. The problem is that as modern day Americans we are not the Israel we see in exile in Egypt or Babylon or Assyria. We are not the disciples under persecution in Rome. The people that we should relate to in the bible is the oppressing Empires. We are Egypt. We are Babylon and Assyria. We are Israel after the reign of Solomon. We are Rome. America is a nation built and run on the oppression of the poor. My entire life is made comfortable by the fact that the corporations and business I give my money to, do horrible things to people around the world. It is so engrained within our culture that even the church (in America), that is supposed to be a counter Kingdom within the earth's empires, looks more like a Christian version of America, than a culture and way of living where the Ancient of Days sits on the throne ruling.
What I would like to know is how do we continue to live within the culture but remove ourselves from systems of oppression, injustice, and violence? How do we become a community of self sacrificing witnesses declaring the ruling authority of Jesus? How do we show that the true power in the world is laying down your life for another, not taking the life of another so that you may live?
I have a couple places we can engage in to start thinking about this. The first is The Bible Project. You're probably getting tired of me referencing them but they just did a series on this subject and it raises some incredible points. They have a video.
And a Podcast series.
- Part 1: Whats the Deal with "Babylon"?
- Part 2: Pharaoh vs. the Warrior God
- Part 3: Solomon the Richest Man in Babylon?
- Part 4: The Evil Behind Babylon
- Part 5: Jesus and the War against evil.
- Part 6: Revelation and Jesus in Modern Politics.
- Part 7: Q + R
The other great resource to begin thinking about this is a series of talks by Walter Brueggeman
Hopefully this gets some wheels turning and we can look at practical steps next.