This post is for my Christian friends. If you are not a follower of Christ, you may not be particularly interested in this discussion. I also have a largely North American reference here, so if you are a global reader this may not be of equal interest to you.
For the past several years, a veritable cornucopia of prognosticators have declared that we are in “post-Christian” America (see for example this Newsweek article from Al Mohler on post Christian America.
I personally have not only participated in the conversation, but have often in recent years been increasingly using the Babylonian exile as a parallel; some have even called for a form of new and/or modified retreat. Most notably, Rod Dreher in The Benedict Option suggests a number of strategies of engagement and disengagement with modern society in order to prepare for the inevitable societal destruction that is here and coming.
I have personally, and friends and leaders I respect, have called for Daniels, Esthers, and Nehemiahs, to mobilize and stand firm during this season. I do not distrust the motives, leadership, or heartbeat of any of those leaders I know and those I do not who have used these phrases and frameworks in the context of our troubled world these days. I have been comforted, encouraged and exhorted by the courageous example of these Biblical saints and by the Hebrews 11 “Hall of Faith” stories and our modern day counterparts.
But here is my personal conviction: I’m going to stop referring, thinking about, and teaching about anything having to do with a Babylonian exile worldview. I believe that followers of Jesus in North America are NOT in Babylon. I repent of thinking and/or teaching that way.
Why do I say this?
I have been praying, reading, and declaring more frequently the powerful truth that we fight “FROM” victory and not “FOR” victory. Many previous teachers, including folks as disparate as Adrian Rogers, Bill Johnson, Tony Evans, Joseph Prince, Clayton King and a host of others have taught this principle previously. Shoot, I have taught it for years! Ephesians 1:3 declares, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”. Sadly, though I believe and have taught it, my everyday reality has at times lulled me into a defeatist and “conserving” mindset rather than a victorious and overcoming posture that is rooted and settled in the Lord of Hosts.
Here is the KEY: POST-RESURRECTION FOLLOWERS OF JESUS ARE NEVER IN DEFEAT. WE ARE ALWAYS FIGHTING FROM WHAT HAS ALREADY BEEN ACCOMPLISHED.
So…I repent of my Babylonian thinking. I am NOT living in Babylon. I might be living in Rome, Corinth, or Ephesus. But if I am, I am living as a blood-bought, Spirit empowered, and victorious follower of Jesus. The Apostle Paul is a better paradigm for our day than Daniel or Esther or Nehemiah (though we can learn from all of them!); he could declare his confidence that God would redeem and restore even though he was in chains or under the thumb of the Roman empire (2 Corinthians 5:17-21, Philippians 1:6, Colossians 1:13-14).
I hope to write and speak more on this in the weeks and months to come. For now, let me say that we who follow Jesus have the same Spirit in us who raised Christ from the dead (Romans 8:11). Therefore, we are NEVER to inhabit dead, weak, impotent, cynical or skeletal bodies. Our churches must not whimper in the corner as “the world” appears to grow stronger. We walk in faith not by sight! We live out a Matthew 5 (“Salt & Light”), Romans 12 (“Transformed and not Conformed”), and Hebrews 12 (“Throwing off everything that hinders”) life for the glory of God.
We are called to be and MUST be a Redemptive Presence in the world. That is our assignment and how we will and can lead as we see the Kingdom of God made real here on earth…just as Jesus prayed and lived.