Summary: Part 7 in series Slowing Down. Dave discusses parallels between the life of the Bible’s Daniel and life in modern America.

Stranded In Babylon

Slowing Down, part 7

Wildwind Community Church

David Flowers

January 10, 2009

Galatians 4:19 (KJV)

19 …until Christ be formed in you.

Last week I posed the very difficult question of whether our current way of thinking about the Christian life, and living the Christian life, is sufficient to actually form us into the image of Christ. I do not believe that our living out of the Christian life is happening at a level that stands a reasonable chance of doing that. Why? Because in so many ways we have conformed to our culture. We are not distinct enough from the world around us to offer a real alternative.

Romans 12:2 (MSG)

2 Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking…Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out…Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Have we become so well-adjusted to our culture that we fit into it without even thinking? I believe in many ways, we have. And the without even thinking part is absolutely critical if we are to understand what Paul is saying here.

If I stand up here and say, “

What about such and such song – is that helping us fix our attention on God,” your response might be, “It’s just a song.” If I say, “How does this or that movie help us fix our attention on God,” you might say, “But it’s just a movie.” If I say, “How does this commercial, or that TV show fix our attention on God,” you might reply, “It’s just a commercial – it’s just a TV show.” If I say, “How does this job or that new car or that lifestyle help us fix our attention on God,” you might reply, “But it’s just a job. It’s just a car. It’s just a lifestyle.” If I say, “How does this particular decision fix your attention on God,” you might say, “Dude, lighten up – it’s only one decision.” But there’s the problem? What else is life in America, if not songs, without movies, without commercials and media, without jobs, without cars, without lifestyles, without decisions? Our lives are the sum total of all of these things. We cannot live or act as if our relationship to external things is separate from our relationship with God. God is interested in you – in your life as it is lived every day, in every way, through every moment and movement.

Romans 12:1 (MSG)

1 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering…

My friends, it is precisely in doing this thing – taking our ordinary, sleeping, eating, music listening, movie watching, decision-making, car driving, lifestyle having, going to work and walking around life – it’s precisely here that I am concerned we are, despite our best intentions, coming up short. In what way? Because as I said last week, we have largely relegated our “spiritual life” to about 6-7 of our waking hours per week, leaving the other 105 largely untouched. Proof of this is that 60% of our high schoolers are jumping ship and leaving the church after graduation. We’re simply not living in a way that provides a real alternative to what the rest of the world offers.

Now far be it from me to stand here and tell you this, as if I’m shoving it in your face. If you cannot look into your own heart, your own life, your own struggles, and maybe even the lives of your own children , and confirm what I am saying to be true, then please feel free to dismiss what I am saying. But when you look into your heart, do you see that more often than not you are disconnected from God? When you look into your own life, do you see that more often than not you go through life making many or most decisions with little awareness of God’s right to be involved? When you look at your own struggles, do you see that many of them involve a sense of spiritual dryness, a sense that even though you know you’re supposed to be living in communion with God, you in fact are not doing any such thing the majority of the time? When you look at your children, are you concerned that they seem to be growing increasingly far from God as they get older?

If you see any or all of these things, I hope to speak to where you are tonight. I want to do that by looking at the life of a person in the Bible who faced many of the same challenges you and I face today. His name was Daniel. Daniel’s story is easy to find in the Bible because it’s in a book named Daniel. I’m going to read the story, then we’ll look for parallels between Daniel’s situation and our situation today. Next week is the baptism and membership service, but the week after that we’ll seek solutions using Daniel’s example.

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