“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool so as to become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God, for it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their own ruses’…so let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you…or the world or life or death, or the present or the future: all belong to you, and you to Christ, and Christ to God.” ~1 Corinthians 3:18-23
Babylon, by all accounts, was a luxurious and decadent place. It was a mighty land, and eventually it took Jerusalem, home of God’s people, captive. They were made to be slaves, and considered to be the lowest of the low in society. Babylon was fun, rich, excessive…and there was no place for God’s people there except to be imprisoned by it. So, if you were a God-fearing person, Babylon wasn’t the safest place to be. Here’s the thing: most of us still spend time in Babylon. Maybe there were a few minutes of the day where you indulged in something else, something that wasn’t of God. Maybe you, like me, were not always a Christian, and now are slow to shed some old habits. Maybe you are self-justifying those old habits. Whatever it may be, in those activities and those moments, you are in Babylon. God and the things He stands for are delegated to a lowly place in your heart.
God tells us, we cannot be of Him and of the typical world. God’s actions often make no sense to the world. They certainly didn’t when Jesus came. For instance, if somebody insults you and gossips about you, the world would say, ‘don’t turn around and do him a favor; he doesn’t deserve it.’ Jesus says, “If someone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.” Clearly, God and the world don’t always match up with each other. However, we grow up in the world. We’re part of it. Usually we like it. So for new Christians, living a new lifestyle in God, it can be hard to find where the line is. What’s God, what’s the world….it’s like 2 opposite ends of a spectrum. Some things are definitive, but in the middle things get jumbled. We tell ourselves, ‘well I won’t stop ___, I’ll just do it less. God will be proud that I’m trying, right?’ Or we think, ‘It’s the principle of the thing, and I’ve already done it, so what does it matter?’ Or if you’re like me, you take option 3 and try to avoid thinking about it completely.
For me, I was, and probably still am, the queen of self-justification. Also the queen of avoidance. I was everywhere on that spectrum; anything that allowed me to thank God and credit Him for the blessings I was given, but not have to actually change too much of my lifestyle. As I began to spend more time with Him, I knew this would have to change eventually. You can’t serve 2 opposites at the same time. I was petrified of what I would have to lay down, and how much, and how much it’d hurt. Still, I trusted Him and just kept asking Him to work in my heart. I never really thought about what that would mean to my lifestyle – like I said I avoided thinking about that – but I hoped that if God transformed my heart, at least when the time came it might hurt less.
Today, God brought me face-to-face with some activities that I used to do before I became a Christian. These same activities, I sometimes continued doing (to a lesser extent) after becoming a Christian. But here’s the thing: as I witnessed this, I realized it had been months since I’d done or thought of any such thing, and oddly enough, I had no desire to join in. All those prayers for God to move in my heart must have worked – he really did change my perspective on things I liked and wanted. So, I thank Him for that. Knowing how stubbornly I held on to these things, I know it takes a mighty miracle worker like God to change that!
The problem was, even though God worked that change in me (thanks Jesus!!!), my avoidance of the issue meant that I had never knowingly walked away from it. It was something God blessed me with, not something I gave up. Today, God told me that it was all or nothing. I was watching, and realizing “this isn’t part of my life anymore.” He wants me to literally redefine myself – this time, without those things. He doesn’t want me to have a Babylon in my heart.
If you read Jeremiah 51, you see that ultimately God tears Babylon down. His people become mighty again, and Babylon becomes a desert wasteland. The things we cling so hard to, do not have any true strength against God’s will. He wasn’t quite so violent with my heart, but it was jarring to see that my Babylon was no longer there and that I needed to redefine myself without it. And even though I wasn’t interested in the activity itself, the finality of it still felt sort of like I was amputating a limb or something.
But, if God has blessed me with a miracle healing, and has blessed me by taking away old desires before He actually calls me to shed them, I’d say He’s faithful and merciful. I can trust Him. He’s taken my Babylon and turned it into a desert. I can either cling to the ashes, rebuild it from the same false and weak foundations that were there before, or I can step away from it, and let God fill that void with Himself. Jesus, today I chose You. Thank you for that strength; may I remember this day and choose you always.