Jim Reeves penned a song entitled, This World is Not My Home. Many of you probably know it. This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through. My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue. Sentimental, right? The song reminds me of gospel singings from when I was a kid. Preachers like to quote it, people whistle it while their working, or sing it in the shower, and why not? The message of the song reminds us that one day we’ll escape the pain and sorrow of this world to live in heaven where there will be no more pain and sorrow.
Actually, I’ve began to question that sentiment. Is it true? Did Mr. Reeves pen a song that plays more on our distaste for pain and sorrow than it does on the actual truth of Scripture? In case you’re wondering, the song’s title is Reeves’ take on Hebrews 13:14.
For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. (Hebrews 13:14 ESV)
I’ve observed in myself, and in many Christians, a tendency to care less for this world because it’s been drilled into our collective minds that we don’t belong here. If we’re all just a passin’ through then we can kind of remain aloof of the world’s problems, keeping them at arms distance as we try to maintain a distance that doesn’t crush our bubbles of personal holy space. No disrespect Mr. Reeves, but this world is our home for now, so we should take interest in what happens while we are here.
Look at Daniel. We’ve began studying through Daniel in our Lifegroup on Friday’s. One of the first things you notice about Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, is that they aren’t afraid to engage the foreign culture that they’ve been forced to adopt. They willingly take new Babylonian names, (Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego), they willingly attend Babylonian university (of sorts) for three years. They step into this new culture, willing to engage the people culturally, philosophically, scientifically, however, they draw a line where it might seem least significant. The are unwilling to eat food from the king’s table.
There are several reasons for this, but generally speaking, eating the king’s food is something they considered harmful to their spiritual lives. Not the culture. Not the pagan education. They were most concerned about their worship! They wanted to be pure in their worship and devotion to God. So what you see in Daniel and his friends is a desire for purity that also refuses to disengage the world. Why? Wouldn’t they be purer the further they kept away from Babylonian influence?
No. Purity isn’t measured by how far removed you are from sinful influence. Purity can only be measured by its strength in the face of evil. Your worship is genuine when the metal of your purity has been stress-tested by the cares and temptations of this world. Daniel knew this. He wanted to be a blessing to Babylon and be a blessing to God. In fact, probably the most overlooked reason for Judah’s exile to Babylon is that God wanted to use his people to bless Babylon.
One of the primary missions of God’s people, Israel, was to be a light and a blessing to the nations. And in this task, she failed, almost universally, with only a few exceptional kings making any effort fulfill this part of her purpose. By his own plan and action, God then exiles Judah to Babylon where she is commanded, be a blessing! (Jeremiah 29:1-7)
What does that have to do with Jim Reeves? Babylon, for a time, became the home for God’s covenant people. For what purpose? To be a blessing to Babylon. If you read Jeremiah 29 on to the end of the chapter, God tells them that after seventy years they would return to Judah. God didn’t say just wait it out, picket the palace, do hunger strikes, make Babylon regret they brought you to their city. He specifically said while you’re here, make it your home, have children, grow in number, bless the city and help her prosper. In other words, turn the other cheek, offer them a relationship they don’t deserve. Sound familiar?
This world is our home. While we’re passing through, pay attention. The mission of God’s people is still to be the light and be a blessing to the nations. We bring the Gospel with us into the culture, into the classroom, into the marketplace. This world is our home as long as we’re here. Love it like your Father does.
P.S. And the kicker is, in the end, this world is still our home, just renovated and flipped by a Jewish carpenter.