In today’s culture, it can feel like it is OK to be anything except a Bible-believing Christ-follower. It seems as if many of today’s influencers have made it their goal to label those who profess Christ as Lord and believe that the words in the Bible are true as Public Enemy No. 1. We are essentially living in a modern-day Babylon.
In ancient Babylon, there were no limits. God used this evil and pagan empire to punish Israel for its idolatry. The Israelites coming into this new culture would have been horrified at the depravity of the culture. Does any of this sound familiar?
It seems like we hear about new levels of depravity and idolatry in our culture daily. Sometimes, I just want to stick my fingers in my ears or hide my head in the sand. Yet, I know that God put me here, at this time, in this place, for a reason. God sent the prophet Jeremiah to encourage the exiles in Babylon, and the words he spoke to them can encourage us today.
4 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: 5 “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. 6 Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! 7 And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”
God is telling his people to live and thrive in the culture where he has placed them. He is telling us the same thing. If we hide ourselves from the world around us, who will be the voice of God in our culture? If Christ followers stop having children and raising them to love the Lord, the light will go out, and no one will be there to stand up in the darkness. It is becoming more difficult to live as a Christ-follower, and I am afraid that in the not-so-distant future, it will become even harder. But, God put you here for a reason.
11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”
You need to be here, but you should look different than those around you. Your life is a light in the darkness, reflecting Christ to an unbelieving world. When we put our faith in Christ, we will have a future and a hope. The Lord hears the prayers of those who are earnestly seeking him. He will not abandon us to the world around us. As Pastor Ben Snyder reminds us in last weekend’s bottom line, what or who you place your faith in will shape what you hope for.
Do you ever despair that you are living in this world, at this time? When you hear the latest headline, how do you feel? Do you have hope, or do you want to hide?
Begin reading the book of Daniel (Daniel 1). Notice how Daniel uses his influence in a pagan culture to shine the light of God, and how the world around him responds.
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Heavenly Father, thank you for putting us here at this time, in this place. Thank you for the privilege to be your light in a dark world. Give us strength to live and thrive in our communities, yet remain fully committed to you. Give us strength to stand up for what is right and to bear the name of Christ boldly and unashamedly. Amen.
This post was written by Julie Mabus. Julie has a passion for thinking about big ideas, art, reading, and seeing God reveal himself through creation. She is married and is homeschooling her five young children.
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