One of the challenges that can arise from seeking to live with our walls down is that we get caught up with the flow of crowds in our culture. We end up being pulled along by the drift of the cultural tide. If we are not well rooted in our devotion to Jesus and in the beliefs, values and way of life that come from being his followers, we can easily get pulled off course. That’s why we must have our roots down if we are going to live with our walls down.
To put it another way, we have to learn to live as exiles in this world. An exile is not a homeless person. An exile has a home, they are just far away from it. Our real home is in heaven, in God’s eternal kingdom – that’s where we belong (Philippians 3:20). We are exiles, foreigners and strangers in this world system (1 Peter 1:1, 2:11; Hebrews 11;13-16). We don’t belong here. We, therefore, have much to learn from the exiles to Babylon that we read about in the Old Testament. In fact, such stories are recorded in Scripture to teach, warn and encourage us Christians (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11). It is tempting, when living as an exile in an alien culture, to try to either oppose and fight the culture or withdraw from it. But Jeremiah told those exiles to seek the prosperity of the place where they were exiled (Jeremiah 29:7) and Daniel and his friends were used within the government of that empire (see Daniel 1-7). That’s the walls down approach. But while seeking to be a blessing to that world, they would not bow down to the idols of that world (see Daniel 3 and 6).
We should be aware that in cultures throughout history, different crowds are pulling in different directions. Even in Jesus’s day, there was the pull of the religious conservatives (Pharisees), the intellectual liberal elite (Sadducees), the social justice warriors (Zealots) and the withdraw-from-society types (Essenes). Please note that Jesus did not align with any of them because his allegiance was to his Father’s kingdom and his kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36). We, likewise, must not align with any current cultural crowd. Our allegiance is to the kingdom of God only.
In the next post, we will see how we manage this tension we face as exiles, as those in the world but not of it, those seeking to make a positive difference in the world by being different from the world.
To understand more of the way of the exile, from a biblical point of view, see this excellent video by the Bible Project: https://bibleproject.com/learn/way-of-the-exile/
This challenge to seek the prosperity of the world while living by the principles of a different world has been called being a creative minority. Learn more about that term here.
You can see the talk that this post is based on here.