The 6th century, B.C., was a tumultuous one for the Hebrew people. Always beset and troubled by enemies, the Jewish state, barely holding out in the territory of Judah and its capitol city, Jerusalem, was finally and fully conquered by the Babylonian Empire in 586 B.C. The land was emptied out, and the people were transported, as exiles, to Babylon. They stayed there for 70 years.
It’s not like this was a surprise coup: that’s what the prophets, like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and all the rest, were all about — throughout Hebrew history, they warned God’s people that bad things would happen if they didn’t do what they were created and designed to do, which is submit themselves to and follow God. This means adjusting not just one’s lifestyle, but one’s way of thinking, to God’s commands.
But the people consistently didn’t, preferring, instead, to follow the gods of the nations around them, customizing their beliefs so that they would fit into their religious culture. It’s a bit what Christians do today — I mean, how many times have you heard, “How are Christians any different from the culture around them? They look the same. Except on Sunday morning.”
We have this mistaken notion that Christianity is all about not swearing, or not drinking, or not getting body piercings, or saying the words “praise Jesus!” or wearing long, unattractive skirts in the name of modesty, or being a member of the Republican party, or eating — or not eating — particular things. We look to external, lifestyle choices as evidence of our belief in Christ, but what truly makes us different is how we think on the inside — we seek humility, mercy, grace; we bite our tongue when someone insults us because we don’t need to add to their hurt by our riposte; we rest in God and admit our weakness; we recognize that we ourselves are powerless, but the God we believe in is not.
Please, also, consider my book The Misfit Christian, which you can look into, before buying, at Amazon.com. I wrote this book — and I write my columns — because I see too many Christians dissatisfied with the church establishment culture, but they feel trapped by it as well.
If you say to yourself, “Oh, I don’t want to buy this – she’s a nobody,” please reconsider. There are a lot of big name Somebodies out there running large churches and writing books, but do you think they know, or care, what it’s like to be an ordinary person? Who better than an ordinary person, a nobody, to write about the journey we walk?