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The Way of the Exile
Themes
5:20
The Kingdom of God is our true home, so how should we relate to earthly rulers? We’re called to live in this tension. That’s the way of the exile.
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How do we navigate the world as exiles?

One of the most difficult issues facing Christians of any culture or time is how to support, resist, or participate in the governing power structures of their day. Should followers of Jesus endorse any political movement? What are the dangers of joining our allegiance to Jesus with loyalty to any nation or government? Religion and politics are highly-charged topics in most cultures, and many of us want to know if the Bible has any wisdom to offer as we navigate this tension.

Resistance vs. Submission

So what's the solution? Should humans withdraw and cloister in a holy huddle, or should they participate in Babylon’s culture to become God’s agents of blessing? The books of Jeremiah and Daniel offer a surprising perspective with stories of Israelites who were both loyal and subversive to Babylon. They offered their best efforts to seek the well-being of Babylon, while also critiquing and resisting its idolatry of power.

Jesus calls us to live like Daniel.

When we turn to the New Testament, we find Jesus adopting this same posture and mindset toward the power structures of Rome and Israel in his own day. And he taught his disciples to do the same. This is why Peter in his first letter calls followers of Jesus “foreigners and exiles.” He says that the “church is in Babylon” (1 Peter 1:1), and when he talks about how Christians should relate to the governing powers of their day, he describes a way of life that is similar to the stories of Daniel and Jesus (1 Peter 2:13-25).

Followers of Jesus offer their ultimate allegiance to their risen King, and they are to critique any kingdom that exalts its own values and power to the place of God. But at the same time, they are to seek peace and offer their best efforts to the communities in which they live. This is loyalty and subversion energized by the hope that one day King Jesus will return and conquer our Babylons.

While the Bible doesn’t give a simple answer to this complex set of issues, it does give us a story to live by as we seek to be loyal to Jesus and his Kingdom.

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