Where are the frozen potatoes?!
No yogurt again?
Why is the weekly collection of garbage such a challenge?
Predictions for gas prices now are at the $6.00 level?
Interest rates are closing in on late 1970s numbers?
Have I been transported to be an exile in a different country?
Obviously that is not the case. I’m physically in a fantastic country and a thriving community. The advantages and blessings far outweigh the disadvantages and curses.
When taking the opportunity to read the book, Faith for Exiles, the writers propose that we as Christians do live in exile - exile in a digital age. When the Jews of the Bible were exiled to Babylon, they were confronted with a pagan-but-spiritual, multicultural, imperial crossroads (Faith in Exiles, p20) that were quite challenging to their former life in Jerusalem. Kinnaman and Matlock (the writers of the book) suggest that the mono-religious, slower paced, homogeneous, simple life of Jerusalem, was forcibly replaced in Babylon of a life of pluralism, fast paced, glitz, and diversity. It doesn’t take much to agree with their conclusion that we too have left a similar time of Judeo-Christian influence, slower pace of community and thought, and simpler decisions into a time of immediate and constant information access, diversity in thought and purpose, frenzied schedules and pluralistic beliefs.
It seems quite apparent that the prophetic warnings of decades have occurred. It’s like the story of the frog in a pot of water. The story goes that a frog placed in a stove top pot of lukewarm water will remain in the water even to the point of boiling to death. We need to be aware of the world around us and realize that all that glitters is not gold, and that a little harm can have lasting effects.
A recent Facebook post from writer Chad Bird reflected on a Greek word that St. Paul uses to describe the devil’s methodical, scheming process to separate us from God, permanently. It’s a stark reminder that we need to make as our top priority - not a retirement account, not a fun or comfortable lifestyle, and not even a healthy long life - our life in Christ.
In Faith for Exiles, the writers examine the behaviors that seem to describe “resilient disciples.’ The number 1 behavior? Experiencing Jesus. I’m not a fan of that term. It has a sense of Jesus being an emotion or thing rather than the God-man Himself.
Thank God that Jesus has come to us; that’s how we experience Jesus. As Immanuel, and as we confess, He was, “Born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell and on the third day he rose again from the dead.” (Apostles’ Creed). He still comes to us today through the Bible, His Written Word, to make us “wise for salvation.” (2 Timothy 3:15)
That Jesus comes to us in His Word is why we need to be desperate to get to church, to read our Bible, to be in Bible study and to be in groups where we dig into this Word. It’s very difficult to be unaffected by the culture of the day. With God, giving us his armor (described in Ephesians 6), we can be the faithful, resilient disciple described in Faith for Exiles and be the witness that God calls us to be.
In the weeks to come, more reflections will be shared on Kinnaman and Matlock’s book. Stay tuned....and maybe even take time to read it.