I was discussing a few thoughts with a friend recently about the things facing the Church in America and it hit me; maybe we’re in exile.
In the Old Testament of the Bible, you have the Kingdom of Judah exiled in Babylon. There is a lot to be said for why that happened, mostly it centered around Judah’s inability to care about their covenantal relationship with God, as a whole, but the what resulted was that Jerusalem is destroyed and many Jews are carried off to Babylon.
Add to that the fact that the western world is, by and large, coming out from a long established period of Christendom, where Christianity was the dominant force in culture and held influential sway over everything. This has led many in the last few years to say today in our culture is closer to Babylon than Jerusalem.
So what’s my point? What if instead of lamenting where America has gone and how the church is no longer holding the majority of cultural sway, we looked to engage society and culture from the point of view of someone exiled? Instead of saying we need to recreate 1945 what if we started having conversations about engaging 2014?
The thought that struck me is that instead of being carried off to exile, basically exile has come to us. Babylon has grown up all around us but we as the Church keep acting like we’re in our version of Jerusalem. A lot of what we decide to do is window dressing as we paint the same structure with different colored paint, thinking that makes it different.
More and more we, the Church, not just those with the title “pastor” are going to have to think as if they were in Babylon. More and more, Christians are going to have to see things through the lens of reality and that we are exiles. I believe, more and more, we are going to have to realize we are missionaries to a culture that doesn’t know God through Jesus Christ; our culture all around us in America.
So are we as the Church in exile? Did we get so comfortable in growing our churches, becoming affluent and similar to our culture that we missed being in the dynamic Kingdom partnership God created us for and sent Jesus Christ to pave the way for? Has the King of Babylon laid siege to our strongholds because we’ve put our safety and comfort above the Mission of Christ?
It was a powerful thought for me and maybe it’ll open you to thinking about ministry a little more. These questions aren’t perfectly answered but feel free to offer your thought in the comments.