Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Revelation Advent -- December 20

After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. And he called out with a mighty voice,

“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!
She has become a dwelling place for demons,
a haunt for every unclean spirit,
a haunt for every unclean bird,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.
For all nations have drunk
the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality,
and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her,
and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”
(Revelation 18:1-3, ESV)

When John wrote Revelation, Babylon was exemplified by Rome. Rome was the commercial power center of the world, was Rome. Rome was rotting at the core and would topple a few centuries later. Other Babylons arose throughout the ages, and they too will fall. The church must not be wedded to the Babylons of its age.

Let me give an example of the church being wedded to strongly with the culture. What isn't too well known is that Christianity spread to China during the T'ang dynasty (618 - 907 AD). One of the Christian communities got official recognition from the ruling authorities. However, in the 800s, the T'ang dynasty was in serious decline. When it fell, Christianity in China was virtually extinguished. The church in China had become so entangled with the ruling party the when the dynasty vanished, the church vanished too.

As great as my country is, the United States, there are many Christians and churches that are too closely wedded to it. There are two polar opposites we need to tread carefully. One is shunning all contact with the culture and the world so that the church does not engage with Christians in any meaningful way. The other is that the church so identifies with the culture it loses being a church at all. The church is to be in the world but not wedded to the world. The world as we know it, the civilizations will perish. We need to be apart from the Babylons of this world

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