It is one thing to highlight a problem. It is a whole other thing to diagnose the problem and propose a solution.
Almost anyone can find a problem and bring it to attention. Few offer solutions or alternatives.
Erwin Lutzer finds himself in the latter camp, not the former. He diagnoses the world we are living in and proposes not just theories but practical, livable solutions.
His attitude throughout this book, instead of decrying the culture we are surrounded by, encouraging people to go into their shells, clinging tighter to their polarized viewpoints, and speaking louder against our “no-longer-Christian” nation, comes through when he repeatedly uses the phrase, “What a marvelous opportunity for God to show up through His church!” (p. 34, 36). What a marvelous opportunity, indeed!
As the Israelites (including Daniel and his friends) in the Babylonian exile and captivity were able to settle down, work hard, and thrive in the worldly culture, we, too, can settle down (physically and emotionally), work hard in our given field for the betterment of the society we live in, and thrive in the worldly culture.
God’s command for them was this: 4 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
This is the type of message Lutzer is getting at. Christ-followers live differently in the world, but they live in the world. We are called to build houses, settle down, plant gardens & eat what they produce, marry and have sons and daughters, increase in number, AND seek the peace and prosperity of the land we live in, AND pray for it.
Instead of just finding what’s wrong and shouting it from the rooftops, Lutzer encourages and challenges the thinking Christian to engage the culture, pray for it, enter into it and live out the Gospel in the midst of it.
The further from Christ the culture gets, the more we need to be present and active within it, working for the glory of God and pursuing others for Christ like He has pursued us. May we follow the challenge from Lutzer that we may be the thriving Church in Babylon. We are living as strangers and aliens in a foreign land, because America is not our home. We belong to a heavenly home; our time here is temporary. May we remember that our salvation is not through our country or her elected officials. Elections matter, but they are not the Gospel; they do not bring salvation.
Thriving as the Church in Babylon depends on an uncompromising living out of the full counsel of the Word of God and sharing the Gospel in any and every situation we are able. It will take time, it will take relationships, and it will take hard work, but that is what our Lord and Savior has called us to do.
This book is an absolute must-read for every thinking Christian who seeks to engage the culture for the sake of the Gospel and the glory of God.