LIVING IN BABYLON: Stay on Mission

LIVING IN BABYLON: Stay on Mission

Blockbuster, Walden Books, Borders, Toys R Us, KB Toys, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn, Sizzler, Circuit City, Jello Pudding Pops, Bugle Boy Jeans, Minolta, Mervyns, Excite, Ask Jeeves, Hollywood Video, Crystal Pepsi, Kinny Shoes, and so many other companies and products you assume are out there are gone. 

The reasons for these companies and brands not being around are various.  Mismanagement.  Downturns in the economy.  New technology took over.  Failure to adapt.  Rival companies did it better.  Some of them lost sight of their mission and purpose.  They are gone as a result.  Keep that last reason in mind… ‘lost sight of their mission and purpose.’

Today, we finish a 5-week blog series (5 of 5) that focuses our attention on the basic truth that we no longer live in a Christian nation.  We live in a land where God is not the priority in politics, dating, marriage, values, sexuality, entertainment, education, family, or worldview.  Just about everything in our culture is designed to pull us away from God.  We do not live in a nation rooted in Biblical values, but rather we live in ‘Babylon.’  ‘Babylon’ was a real place in the Bible, but in the Bible, it also became a symbol for a culture or a society that marches away from God and away from His way of living.  We live in ‘Babylon.’

In this 5-week series, we have focused on the life of believers in God who were forced to live in Babylon and draw important life principles for us.

We discovered first (1 of 5) that Babylon is pressing us with clutter and complexity and fast-paced life and the only way to be a resilient disciple of Jesus is to prioritize intimacy with Jesus and our priority must be our relationship with Jesus above all else.

We discovered second (2 of 5) that in a society that draws us away from God regularly, we must have a mindset that we stand our ground with God and be assured He is right because He is always faithful and we need to be effective and faithful right where we are at.  God will be faithful to Himself and we must trust in Him and in His way.

We discovered third (3 of 5) that our culture drives us to be all about ourselves and me-sized and self-centered and to prize entertainment and distractions.  As a result, investing in our faith in our church and in relationships is a wise use of our time, energy, and effort to help us sharpen our identities in Christ and serve others.

We discovered fourth (4 of 5) that our culture is very self-centered and fame oriented so we need to work with excellence and perseverance and faithfulness no matter what job we are doing and we need to be prayerful and faithful when the workplace turns into a lion’s den and gives friction when it comes to faith.

OUR CURRENT CHURCH CULTURE, ‘FAITH FOR EXILES, ‘ Kinnaman & Matlock, 2019, page 33

Before we dig into the Scripture, I want to share with you a little bit about our culture and how it relates to Christianity and the Church.  I am not talking specifically about your church alone, but the big ‘C’ church which would include Christians of many different flavors across our country.

Folks that study culture and church and do surveys (Barna Research) tell us that there are 4 different groups that a church may encounter in our culture that express some kind of faith in Jesus.  Each of these different groups have different practices, beliefs, perspectives, and attitudes when it comes to the Christian faith.  I am not talking about folks who are complete non-Christians and have never heard about Jesus, but those who have expressed some kind of Christian faith at some point in their lives.

First, there are the Prodigals.  These people do not identify themselves as Christians even though they might have expressed faith in Jesus as a child or a teenager.  They once were Christian and now they are not and have left it behind.  This is 22% of the people they surveyed.

Second, there are the Nomads or the unchurched.  These folks identify themselves as Christians but have not attended church in the past month.  Also, the vast majority of Nomads haven’t been involved in a church for six months or more.  They say they are Christians but there is no evidence to support this profession of faith. This is 30% of the people they surveyed.

Third, there are the Habitual Churchgoers.  These are the 38% of people that have attended church at least once in the past month, but their lifestyle and core beliefs are not really Christian.  Their behaviors do not match what they profess to believe.  Christian faith is more of a casual thing for them and not a core part of their identity. 

If you are keeping track of percentages, we are at 90% of people who profess some kind of connection with Jesus (or used to) who are not all that committed and the core values and beliefs of the Bible.  Faith does not impact their lives on a daily basis.

Fourth and finally, there are the Resilient Disciples.  These are 10% of the people they surveyed who are Christ-followers who attend church at least once monthly and are engaged in church other than just attending church services.  They trust firmly in the authority of the Bible.  They are committed to Jesus personally and believe He died and rose again.  They also express a desire to transform society as an outcome of their faith.  These folks are open to and committed to deepening their relationship with God in all parts of their lives. 

What this means as we look at the big ‘C’ church as a whole is that probably only 10-20% of people in our culture are taking faith seriously and the rest are not.  The other 75% show up and sit in the pews or have stopped showing up altogether.  There is not a lot of commitment.  Not a lot of serving.  A whole lot of living one way Monday thru Saturday and then showing up to church services when they feel like it.  Like I said, our nation is no longer a Christian nation. 

We live in Babylon were faith in Jesus is not a serious thing.  As Christians live in Babylon, commitment and the desire to live as a disciple of Jesus becomes less and less appealing.  Worship is less important.  Bible and prayer are less important.  Wednesday Bible studies and prayer times are sparsely attended.  Youth group and VBS and children’s events are less attended.  In its place are sports, planned family events, school, work, and entertainment of all kinds that take priority over faith.  That is the culture we live in.  The Church is in danger of not being on mission and losing sight of our purpose.   

So, what message does the Bible have for us when it comes to a culture that seems to be shrinking the influence of the church? 

What does a resilient faithful disciple look like in our day?

What should we believe?  What should we do?  Who should we be?

What should we believe and do when faith becomes less and less important in our society and maybe even less and less important in our own families?

How do we stay on mission and keep the purpose of the Christian faith in front of us?


First, we have a passage from Daniel 7.  If you are not familiar with the Book of Daniel, it can be divided into two parts.  Chapters 1-6 give us episodes and seasons in Daniel’s life as he lives in Babylon and chapters 7-12 give us prophecies and visions that Daniel received as he served the Lord.  Our message today centers on staying on mission and keeping the purpose of front and center in our lives.  Living this way is counter to our culture. 

DANIEL 7:13-14 (ESV): I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a Son of Man, and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. 14 And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

Daniel tells us about his vision.  It is an important vision.  In this vision and prophecy, we are introduced to an important figure.  This hero is given the nickname ‘Son of Man’ and He receives a Kingdom that includes people from all over the world and has no boundaries and us an eternal dominion.  This Kingdom is given by the Ancient of Days to the Son of Man and lasts forever.

You might read that and not know what Daniel is writing about.  Daniel is writing about Jesus Christ.  The title Ancient of Days is one of Daniel’s favorite titles for God.  He is highlighting that God is the beginner of all days and is the Uncaused Cause of everything.  The nickname ‘Son of Man’ is Jesus’ favorite title for Himself in all four Gospels and in the Book of Revelation. 

What we have in Daniel 7 is a prediction and description of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords Jesus Christ having a kingdom that has no boundaries and lasts forever.  This kingdom is set up, as many of Daniel’s other visions show us, against what the world offers.  The world and the culture around us offers one thing and demands one thing and the will of God and the life He has for us is many times pretty much the opposite.  His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). 

If you consider yourself a Christian, you are part of a spiritual kingdom that is set against the culture in which we live.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to be a Christian and maintain mission and purpose and faith in Jesus Christ.

To live as God’s people, to follow the Son of Man in His kingdom and to stay on mission with Jesus, you have to choose.  Just going along with the culture just isn’t going to cut it.  The conditions of our culture demand that we choose each day Whom we will serve.

Choose if your children and grandchildren watch TV and movies with homosexual parents.

Choose if you allow music heavy with cursing or anti-police rhetoric in your home.

Choose if you let Christian nationalism and unnoticed white privilege come out of your mouth.

Choose if you will pray as a family for meals in restaurants.

Choose if you allow your teenagers to work on Sundays.

Choose if you will allow children and grandchildren the choice to come to worship or not.

Choose if you will allow children and grandchildren the choice to come to youth group or Sunday school.

Choose to stay silent or speak up as sports teams practice and play games Sunday mornings.

Choose in prayer how you will vote.

Choose carefully what memes you share on Facebook and twitter and what you complain about.

Choose if you will spend time every single day in the Bible.

Choose if you will spend time daily in prayer.

You and I have a choice to make to be on mission and be countercultural to what we see around us.  Being a follower of Jesus Christ is not a one-time thing, but a daily choice to follow Him above what our culture peddles into our lives.

* What decisions do you need to make?

* What changes do you need to make?


Jeremiah was a man that saw the exile to Babylon coming for the People of God, but no one listened to him.  He saw it coming, saw it happen, and lamented over the destruction of the People of God.  He writes about this in the Book of Jeremiah and in the Book of Lamentations.  Jeremiah wanted the People of God to stay on mission but they did not. 

Jeremiah has much to say to us.  Jeremiah 29 is both a blessing and a curse for us.  Jeremiah 29 is a blessing for us because Jeremiah writes encouraging words to the People of God about how to stay on mission and keep God at the forefront of their lives as they live in exile in Babylon.  That is awesome!  Jeremiah 29 is a curse for us because Jeremiah 29:11 is one of those verses that Americans take out of context over and over again and apply where it doesn’t belong.


Jeremiah is writing to people who have lost many things in their lives and are now living in exile in Babylon.  How should they live?  How do they maintain their faith in this new land?  They are literally asking: What should we believe?  What should we do?  Who should we be?  Everything in their culture is a strong current pulling them away from God.

Verses 4-7 command us not to quit, but rather to step forward in life and be faithful.  Jeremiah encouraged them to live life as normal.  Life does not stop because our culture is different or we have a disastrous setback or there is a law that curbs our faith.  Build houses.  Have gardens.  Raise children.  All of the normal things of life need to go on faithfully before the Lord no matter where we are or no matter what is going on in the culture around us.  Jeremiah tells the People of God to make the best of their situation all the while they are faithful to God.  They were to build lives and tend them and even to seek the well-being and peace of the place where they lived.  When the city prospers, they will prosper. 

Verses 8-14 command us to be careful to whom we listen when it comes to spiritual matters.   The reason for this warning in Jeremiah 29 has to do with false prophets that were advising the People of God not to put down roots because the current situation would be over soon.  Jeremiah proclaims exactly the opposite message by stating that the exile would be long.  We know if was at minimum 70 years.  These verses share with us that the culture they lived in, and by extension, the culture we live in, is not going to snap back to some kind of faithfulness to God.  It isn’t going to happen.  We live in a post-Christian culture.  Period.  Get used to it.  Things are going to get worse, not better, when it comes to culture and Christianity. 

In the midst of this world that draws us away from God, we have promises from God to hold onto in verses 8-14. 

Yes, in verse 11 God promises prosperity and welfare, but the context is life being difficult and living faithfully against the grain of culture.  Verse 11 does not say that God has plans to prosper you with money or fame or comfort because you pray for it and you say you are a Christian.  Jeremiah communicates to the exiles that welfare comes from the Lord when we abide in Him and live the way He wants.  You’ve got to be on mission and faithful to God for those showers of blessings to come down.  That is what verse 11 says. 

Yes, in verse 12 God promises that when we pray to Him, He hears us.  That is a fantastic promise.  Our God is ever-present to help us as we live counterculturally for Christ.  He has not left us alone.  God never leaves His people alone.  He always has a way out or a plan or a deliverer.  When I think about Christians today, I remember that we have the Holy Spirit with us and He is always by our side in easy times and in difficult times. 

Yes, in verse 13 God promises that when we seek Him we will find Him.  He promises to be faithful and keep His promises for those who have been faithful to Him.  The People of God are in a different culture and I can imagine that they were not so sure all the time what to choose or who to be or what to believe.  God says that when we seek Him, we will find Him.  When we look for His way, He will be there and be found. 

If you consider yourself a Christian, you are part of a spiritual kingdom that is set against the culture in which we live.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to be a Christian and maintain mission and purpose and faith in Jesus Christ.

To live as God’s people, we need to commit to living everyday life for God.  Jeremiah mentions the simple everyday things of life need to be dedicated to God and we need to abide in Him continually if we are going to stay on mission and survive and thrive in the culture.

In everyday life, make prayer a mission.

In everyday life, commit to being faithful and holy in your attitudes.

In everyday life, seek the fruit of the Spirit.

In everyday life, put others before yourself and serve them.

In everyday life, do what is right even when it hurts.

In everyday life, believe and know that God is working for your good.

In everyday life, you and I must abide in Jesus and make Him our priority or our culture is going to sweep us away from God.  We must choose each and every day to serve the Lord.


I want to mention one last encouragement.  Jesus Christ absolutely knew that His followers would be living in situations that were not favorable to their faith.  He knew that the message of the Gospel might be seen as close-minded or judgmental or even misused and misquoted.  He knew all of that and yet He commanded us to be on mission for Him no matter what is going on around us.  We must live counterculturally for Christ.

What was the mission He gave us?

MATTHEW 28:19-20 (ESV): 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

MARK 16:15 (ESV): And He said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

ACTS 1:8 (ESV): But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

We have now spent these five blogs focusing on our culture that is drifting further and further from God and presses us to walk away from our faith on a daily basis.  It all comes down to you and I choosing what or Whom we will serve.  It is my prayer and my challenge for you that you will choose to serve Jesus and not the culture you see around you.

If you don’t, it won’t just be Blockbuster, Walden Books, Toys R Us, Oldsmobile, Mervyns, and all those other companies and products that will have disappeared, it will be your faith that went belly-up and can’t be found anymore.


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