Do you ever look around and feel disheartened at the state of our nation? The values I was raised with no longer seem to be reflected by the majority. This leaves me with a persistent feeling that I don’t belong, and I often find myself longing be somewhere else. I imagine a place where people are kind and considerate to each other, where justice is upheld for all, where compassion and selflessness are valued, and where honor and truth are sought and found. There is such a place, but is not found on this earth. It reminds me of this quote:
If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.C.S. Lewis
Humility, truth, equality, compassion, kindness, justice, and selflessness seem to be in short supply today. Instead, society is obsessed with the attainment of wealth, power, celebrity, and fame. Progressive changes that have occurred have left me feeling like a refugee in a foreign land. I can imagine that is how faithful Hebrews felt when they were taken into captivity.
All the men of valor, seven thousand, and the craftsmen and the smiths, one thousand, all strong and fit for war, and these the king of Babylon brought into exile to Babylon.2 Kings 24:16
Babylonia was a pretty nice place to be held captive. The city of Babylon was beautiful, and had detailed architecture with irrigated hanging gardens. As a major center for education, trade, and technology development, it was also a wealthy nation. In fact, during their captivity the Hebrews prospered. But, the Babylonians expected them to conform to their culture. As we see in the book in Daniel, remaining faithful to God was not a popular choice. Although resistance to pagan practices brought severe consequences (Daniel 3:8-25; Daniel 6 ), God used these moments as opportunities to display his power.
Even though Babylon seemed to have it all, they’d become a self-indulgent nation of excess. Greed and overindulgence ultimately brought their downfall. Corruption and complacency quickly weakened the empire, leaving them vulnerable to the Persian empire. Sound familiar?
When we face persecution from the outside world it reminds us of important truths:
2. We need Jesus.
3. This is not our home.
We may have been born here, but we were meant for more. It doesn’t matter where our country of origin is, as followers of Christ we are all living in captivity. Everything about God is contrary to worldly values. He calls us to be different too. The the Hebrew word for “holy” is to be set apart, and that means we were meant to stand out.
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”1 Peter 1 :14-16
The world around us will always create pressure to conform. Christ’s teaching is full of truth, and often the truth is unpopular. When we refuse to conform to popular opinion we shouldn’t feel surprised when we are rejected.
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.John 15:18-21
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”John 16:33
There is no need to fear even when times appear hopeless. Our hope is found in Christ. When God rescues us his glory will be displayed to all. Until that time, God provides opportunities for us to bear witness to others and to share the hope of redemption found in Christ. The way we live our lives tells others whose we are. When we remember that heaven is our true home we are able to endure the hardships of this life.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Matthew 6:21
God always keeps his promises. Just as he restored the Hebrews to Jerusalem, one day he will bring us home as well.