Singing songs in a strange land - Hope 103.2

Singing songs in a strange land

By David ReayFriday 25 Sep 2015LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read Psalm 137:1-3

1           Beside the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept
                 as we thought of Jerusalem.
2           We put away our harps,
                 hanging them on the branches of poplar trees.
3           For our captors demanded a song from us.
                 Our tormentors insisted on a joyful hymn:
                 “Sing us one of those songs of Jerusalem!” (NLT)

What ‘song’ can we sing in what is becoming an increasingly strange land for followers of Jesus? The Jewish exiles in Babylon could not bring themselves to simply do what their captors asked of them. The songs of Jerusalem seemed out of place by the waters of Babylon.

Christians may feel themselves ‘exiled’ from the surrounding society. Not that this should alarm or surprise us. After all, we are called aliens and exiles elsewhere in the Scriptures. But it is nonetheless uncomfortable and challenging for us to witness to Jesus in a world which seems increasingly indifferent to him.

Some of the discomfort can be put down to Christians vainly imagining they have a privileged position in society and insisting on privileged treatment. And the church hasn’t helped its authentic witness by the horror stories of abuse and neglect.

And yet even the genuine humble follower of Jesus may well struggle to sing a song in our strange land. It can’t be a song that suggests we have all the answers or a song that implies some moral superiority on our behalf. It can’t be merely a song of regret, longing for the good old days in Jerusalem.

It must somehow be marked by a love of mercy and justice, a love of even those who have exiled us. The song we sing, the witness we bear, might not be appreciated or understood, but it will faithfully reflect the mind and heart of Jesus who loved a world which largely rejected the song he sang.

David Reay

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