Read: Jeremiah 29:4-14
Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf . . . (v. 7)
Exile is a metaphor the Bible uses repeatedly for the life of faith. It is during times of displacement that God’s people most profoundly rely on God’s presence and God’s promises. And it is during exile that God makes himself known to an unbelieving world through his people.
When the Babylonians conquered and enslaved Judah in 586 BC, God’s people faced two choices. They could curse the pagan city while capitalizing on it. Or they could assimilate into the city, becoming pagans themselves. God mandates a third choice. God tells his people to maintain their faith while living in this home away from home. At the same time, God adds: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf” (v. 7).
God commands this investment in the pagan city not only to benefit his people but also to benefit their neighbors. Neighbors who, in this instance, are social and political adversaries. As Christians, we live in a world that is inherently hostile to us. Like the exiles, we are tempted either to capitalize on the “earthly city” while cursing it or to assimilate to such an extent that we are unrecognizable as God’s people. God commands a third way: to invest ourselves in such a way that our communities are blessed and God’s name is known. —Ben Van Arragon
Prayer: Lord God, make your presence known to my community through my investment in it.