“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great.” [Revelation 18:2]
Babylon, the dominant culture, has fallen! Sound familiar?
Let me say upfront that I do not put credibility on the end time prophetic reading of revelation. So what I am going to be saying, I believe, is a revelation of Jesus Christ that has NOTHING to do with the second coming or being ‘Left Behind’.
“I heard another voice from heaven, saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues..’ And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their cargoes any more cargoes of gold and silver and precious stones and pearls and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet, and every kind of citron wood and every article of ivory and every article made from very costly wood and bronze and iron and marble, and cinnamon and spice and incense and perfume and frankincense and wine and olive oil and fine flour and wheat and cattle and sheep, and cargoes of horses and chariots and slaves and human lives. Cargoes of automobiles and mortgages, of news print and pulp…’. ” [Revelation 18:4, 11-13]
We, as the church, have been in Babylon. We are as much consumers in our society as anyone else, and much of our gospel has been a ‘different gospel’. We have made the same promises to the people in our congregations as our society makes to our culture: buy into our product and your life will be fulfilled.
We have bought into it so much that we think that as Babylon is being cast down, we will be its savior. However, we are called to come out. As Jesus might say to western Christianity – not just to individuals but to the institutions themselves, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” [Matthew 19:21] “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” [Luke 18:22]
Jesus’ and the apostles teachings are the antithesis of the Prosperity theology that has dominated much of the teachings coming out of western Christianity. “Any Gospel that cannot be preached in a Third-World country is not the True Gospel of Jesus Christ” — Dr. David Jeremiah. As a result, we have participated in Babylon’s sins, and, without repentance, we will receive of her plagues.
We cannot be the answer to the problem as long as we are buy into the culture.
As Michael Frost says in this video (a must watch)[paraphrased]:
What the world sees when it looks at the church in our culture today is: absolute temporal power, what with all our accouterments and buildings … and they think we would do anything to keep that power. They agree with the Da Vinci Code thinking that we would do anything to maintain our status and our power and our position. Why don’t we show them that we hold what we got, very, very loosely! that we are a viral movement of little Jesuses and that we do not need our buildings and our money and the accouterments of our institutional power; that we have spiritual power that transforms us from ordinary people into a movement of Grace and Love and Power.
The peasants in China can take hold of the gospel with none of the temporal institutional instruments of power that we have and can literally transform the most draconian of regimes that the world has ever seen.
What would happen if we woke up tomorrow to find that our christian denomination has lost a lawsuit that required the selling off of all the assets, buildings and property in order to pay the fine? Many would possibly move on to other denominations. But what if we owned the situation and learn to live in temporal poverty, instead relying on an indwelling of God’s spiritual power to flow through us?
I say that then we would hear cried out in heaven, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” [Revelation 19:6,7]