Is it possible to have a thriving relationship with God even in the middle of a culture gone crazy? Absolutely! And my confidence is bolstered by the testimony of an ancient biblical prophet named Daniel. He lived most of his life in Babylon as a servant of tyrants and still managed to hear from God, speak for God, and live his life in a way that was pleasing to God. And I think he has much to teach believers today.
Last night, I caught a few minutes of a History Channel show about Auschwitz, where 1.1 million Jews were essentially murdered systematically by the Nazi regime in occupied Poland. The picture in this article is of the ovens, which remain as you see them as a memorial to those who died. Shelly Palmer wrote a detailed piece on Huffington Post about the technology of the holocaust as highlighted at Birkenau. The holocaust was an atrocity that should never be repeated on this planet.
When I wrote Rewired, I argued that there is really nothing new about “social media” except the term itself. Media (truth, information) has been around since the world began, and God made us to be social from the start. It was always his idea that truth and information, especially the good news about God, be spread relationally, from person to person. What is new is the set of tools we have at our disposal to create and join conversations online.
This past Sunday, I introduced a new message series from the book of Daniel called Thriving in Babylon. And in the first message, I scratched the surface of the question, how can I live for Jesus while living in a world that feels more like ancient Babylon than the promised land? Watch above, and here’s a bit of a synopsis.
Two thirds of the earth’s surface is water, yet there are places in the world where people will literally go to war over access to clean drinking water. In the same way, there have never been so many books, seminars, and blogs on leadership, yet the culture is still a giant vacuum desperately needing leaders to get out front.
I’m not an SBC Pastor (Southern Baptist Convention). I’m a BMA Pastor (Baptist Missionary Association of America), but I did grow up in an SBC church, served as a Pastor at an SBC church, and many of my great heroes in ministry have been SBC leaders. So I remain somewhat tuned into SBC happenings, especially via the blogosphere.
Hobby Lobby went to court. World Vision changed its hiring policy. Then they changed it back. The President visited the Pope. It’s been a big week – not for the kingdom, but for western evangelicalism. And it hasn’t been pretty.
The church is a movement started by Jesus consisting of people who are “called out” together into one body in a single locality charged with the assignment of bringing the glory of God to all peoples in their community and in their world. Elsewhere the Bible calls God’s people “peculiar,” signifying that we are God’s alone and therefore are to be different and distinct in some way from the world. Jesus put it this way,
I love that part of the story of the early church in which God allows persecution to scatter the Christians from Jerusalem like ants. The Bible says that everywhere they went, they preached the gospel (see Acts chapter 8). Phillip, in particular, headed to a city in Samaria and became the earliest cross-cultural missionary. When he preached there, the citizens listened and embraced Jesus. The Bible sums it up by saying, “So there was great joy in that city.” (Acts 8:8 NLT)
Our culture is very familiar with Jesus, but often misinterprets Him and His words. Most people who have a problem with organized religion or the church in our culture don’t necessarily have a problem with Jesus because of the image that we have of Him. Typically, we see Jesus as: