One day a homeschooling mama expressed a concern that I know many of you are feeling also:
What kind of world are my children going to face when they grow up?
For decades, many Christians, including Ray and I, have shared this same concern. I don't know if it is really true, but the pace of the downturn in our culture seems to be going faster and faster. Many American Christians feel as though they are strangers and aliens in their own country.
Ray and I were newlyweds in 1976 when Christian writer Dr. Francis Schaeffer published a series of films entitled How Shall We Then Live? Schaeffer's question is key. We must honestly face the state of our culture and then decide how then we shall live.
During the time of the prophet Jeremiah, Israelites were literal strangers and aliens in a foreign country. Because they had been unfaithful to God, He sent them away from Israel and caused them to be exiled refugees in Babylon. The prophet Jeremiah wrote the exiles a letter from Jerusalem. The letter answered Schaeffer’s question of how those Israelites should live while they were in that strange land. Jeremiah's letter quoted the exact words God had told Jeremiah to say.
Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce.
Take wives and father sons and daughters,
and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands,
so that they may give birth to sons and daughters;
and grow in numbers there and do not decrease.
Seek the prosperity of the city where I have sent you into exile,
and pray to the Lord in its behalf;
for in its prosperity will be your prosperity.
Jeremiah 29:5-7 NASB
Glazed brick panel from ancient Babylon. Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fletcher Fund, 1931
As you educate your children, you are preparing them to establish homes, to become parents, and to contribute to the wellbeing of the places where they will live. At the same time, you are training them how to live as strangers and aliens.
The New Testament teaches us that we are strangers and aliens in the world. The apostle Peter instructed early Christians how to live in a culture that opposed them and how to influence other people living in that culture.
First, Peter reminded them of who they were:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, . . .
1 Peter 2:9a NASB
Then Peter told them what their purpose was:
. . . so that you may proclaim the excellencies
of Him who has called you out of darkness
into His marvelous light . . .
1 Peter 2:9b NASB
Then Peter reminded them again of who they were:
. . . for you once were not a people,
but now you are the people of God;
you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 2:10 NASB