A year or two ago I read an article that pointed out the main difference between the old guard and the new of a certain denomination in the U.S. He went on to say that the older group in this denomination, which I find myself belonging to, seeing the U.S. as the 'new Israel'. And as such they call for nationalism and a reform of the nation to come back to a 'godly' place. The younger group, of which I belong, see the U.S. not as the reincarnation of Israel. But of Babylon. And see's Christians as those who live lives in exile awaiting the hope of one day going home. For this is not, cannot be, home.
On this issue there is much more that could be said. And if you would wish to go there feel free to contact me. There is a link on this site to do so. But for the remainder of this article I will speak from the place that I see as true. America is not the chosen of God. It has become Babylon. We, as the people of God, are those in exile. We long for home, because we know that this is not it.
I woke up later than I had wanted to this morning. Monday is a day that I can do such, although I do not like to. For the summer I am 1/3 student, 1/3 janitor, and 1/3 bartender. And I don't have to be anywhere on Monday's till midday. So today I woke late and honestly the first thing that I decided to put-off was reading scripture. I though of a thousand ways to justify doing just that. But as I was making my morning tea (I am out of coffee and Barry's Tea from Erie works as a substitute) I felt the beautiful tug of the Spirit to read.
I opened up my Bible to today's reading and found myself in Psalm 137. If you are not familiar with this psalm it it one written in exile. It is one written from Babylon. In verse 5-6 the psalmist writes:
"If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget it's skill!
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy!"
The writer is in anguish. It is one that is so foreign to us in the West. It is foreign for we have been deceived into believing the lie that we are at home. But for those of us who belong to Christ, we are those in exile. We need only read 1 Peter to be reminded. It does not matter if we rent or own. We are not home.
The psalmist has the benefit of understanding. The psalmist has not bought the lie that we, that I, so often believe. The psalmist understands that he is not home. And he longs to be there. But his longing is not like ours. For in his longing he makes a strong decree, he calls to God and offers something of himself. He asks God that if he ever forget where him home truly is that he would be robbed of his ability to work. That he would be robbed of his ability to speak. He understands that the comfort and security of where he now lives is appealing, and he knows that he could easily be led down a broad path. The same broad path that Christ would speak about years later. He sees this and longs for something more than the health, wealth, and comfort promised by the false prophets of his age.
In the letter which we have come to call the book of Philippians St Paul reminds us that we do not belong to this world any more than the Jews belonged to the empire of Babylon. In that letter he writes these words: "But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ..." His call is to remind those that truly belong to Christ that we belong to the place where Christ is. No matter what he have or what we long in this place, in this season, in this country, in this life. We belong to the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of Christ.
Paul sought to remind us that this is the place that we belong. But when exiled at Patmos St John was given a vision of this place that is the only true home of those who belong to Christ. He was able to see it and he told us of it. In the second to last chapter of all Scripture he wrote the following:
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.' And he who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.'”
For those of us who belong to Christ. This is our future. This is our home.
I am often tempted to forget this. I am tempted to live as is this life is the one that I need to sacrifice for. That I need to make sure that I am comfortable, safe, and secure above all else. I am often tempted, as are you, to trust Satan. For his words have sounded sweet to our race since Eden.
But instead. I call you to remember Christ with me. Remember who He is. Remember what He has said. And Remember that He has promised us a home, and that home is not yet here. Which means all of us are not yet home.
But I ask that you would join me in a prayer modeled after the cries of the psalmist.
If I forget that I belong to Your city, the New Jerusalem,
Let me forget all that I know. Let me not even be able to work and store up the treasure of false hope.
If I forget where my true home is, where I belong, let me no longer be able to find security in my exile.
For I am in exile here. This place is not my home.
Forgive me for all the times I trusted Satan and have believed that this is my home.
If I forget Your holy city, my eternal home,
don't even let me speak. Don't let my word praise the place of my captivity.
If I forget You and the city you promised me,
let my words fall short and of deaf ears.
Lord, let this place where You will truly dwell with me,
let it be my truest aspiration and my deepest joy.
Let me seek it always.
Let me desire it above all things.