In the past couple of days, I have been prompted to revisit this from my more recent money book, Are You Worried Yet…:
What I saw was a choice between two kinds of “time-shares,” two places to rest, two places to live, even a choice between two kingdoms. How can we leave the one, without entering the other? Getting out of Babylon, it seems, is a call to every one of us, but where are we to go if we are given no alternative? Does “the gospel” consign us to some kind of mental holding pattern until Jesus comes back? Why should people living in darkness want a piece of that action?
We need to live in the Spirit’s alternative to Babylon; we need to live there now. My experience tells me that this is well within reach of the faith once delivered to the saints, and still available even in our own day. What we are presently calling “church” isn’t fooling anyone, except perhaps ourselves.
As my revelation that day in Mexico became clearer, I found myself wanting to share about the work of the cross, not only as a remedy for sin, but as a kind of bulldozer for spiritual urban renewal. I was reminded that the Apostle Paul wanted to go where the gospel had not been preached. No wonder. A great deal of demolition work needs to be done on the half-way houses that our understanding of the gospel has offered in the name of the Lord.
The way things are now, people haven’t the faintest idea of what the Bible is really offering us in Christ. People living in darkness need very badly to know that there is another place to live, another place to rest. If I understand it right, believers were to be a demonstration in that darkness. “Oh well, maybe next time – NOT!”
What Jesus offers us is bad for business, any business:
…To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children who sit in the market place. . . .¹
We sit in a market place with an eye to doing business. We have business on our mind. It is this “what’s in it for me that I can buy” mentality that stands in opposition to our ability to enter the Kingdom of God. It is a change of mental location that we need in order to come out of Babylon and enter another place.
The book of Revelation is a strange kind of letter. It tends to scramble our sense of “past” “present” and “future.” A “beast” is revealed there who will burn Babylon in the future.²
The book of Revelation also reveals another place to live. This other place is called “The New Jerusalem.”³ The problem is that what’s calling itself “church” has been so locked into futureness that we have missed the burning that is going on in the present. This burning is the result of a fire Jesus kindled at the cross. This is to say, we don’t have to wait until the eleventh hour to get out of the burning tower. The fact is, the fire Jesus set at the cross has already gutted the building.
One way of indicating where the gospel takes us, as contrasted with where we have been, is to summarize the contrast between two economic “systems.” One system finds its expression in a market place, a place where people go to buy and sell. The rock bottom object of the market place is a redistribution of the necessities of life. The economy of God does this by the blood of Christ. This is the transaction of the cross, where we exchange our garbage for His love.⁴
¹ Luke 7:30-32
² Revelation 17:16
³ Revelation 21:2
⁴ This summary was first suggested to me by Lisa Weger, co-author of Not Left Behind.