About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman
"This is what the LORD
says: 'When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to
fell to the Medes and Persians in BC 539 it is estimated that there were
about one million Jews living in Babylon. After the fall of
Babylon, these Jews were permitted to return to their homeland to rebuild
their cultural distinctiveness. Sadly, only about forty-two thousand Jews embraced the
vision to restore their distinct cultural community.
The majority of Jews felt comfortable in Babylon.
Like the Jews in
captivity, as Christians we live in a cultural landscape in which we do
not belong. It's what Jesus
said, as recorded in John 15:19.
you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you
do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That
is why the world hates you. "
It's this cultural
landscape that Peter warned his audience to be rescued from.
Acts 2:40 reads:
"With many other
words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, 'Save yourselves from
this corrupt generation.'"
It's that same cultural
landscape that the apostle John advised his readers not to love. 1
John 2:15 reads:
"Do not love the
world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the
Father is not in them."
does this mean for us? The
Greek word "agapeo" in 1 John 2:15 is the verb form of the
Greek noun "agape" that implies a love based on sacrifice.
When John said "do not love the world" he was saying
"do not sacrifice yourself for the world (culture) around
you." That does not
mean you cannot engage in, or even enjoy, morally appropriate aspects of
your cultural environment. Understanding
that engaging or enjoying are distinctly different from sacrificing, you
sacrifice your life to Jesus and His will.
That means you engage yourself as one existing in a distinct
cultural community that represents Jesus to the world, just as the Jews
returning to their homeland were to do.
During their captivity,
the majority of Jews grew comfortable living in a cultural community
that was not their own. Only
a minority sacrificed themselves and embraced the vision to be God's
distinct cultural community that would represent Him to the nations.
In today's western-world, the majority of Christians are
comfortable living in a cultural community that is not their own.
Only a minority are willing to sacrifice themselves and embrace
the vision of becoming Jesus' distinct cultural community that would
represent Him to the
nations. May we
not be so comfortable in our Babylonian culture that we fail to embrace
the vision of being the distinct Community of Christ we are called to