Jeremiah 29 vs 7
“But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (ESV)
If you were carried off by an enemy to a foreign city and held there against your will your first response would not be to pray for the welfare of your captors and the city in which you were a prisoner and yet that is exactly what God instructed the exiles form Jerusalem to do. Settling down though, building houses and having families, even praying for the welfare of the city did not imply they were to give up their identity. The exiles were to be distinctive as God’s people even those who had reached the top of society in Babylon. Daniel who interpreted Nebuchadnezzar dream was one example we considered last week others were Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego of fiery furnace fame.
In these times is it right that we should pray for the welfare of our city and nation? Yes of course, it goes without saying! Even though in a spiritual sense we are exiles in this world and as Christians we, like Abraham, are looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God, we are still to be committed to the welfare of the city and community of which we’re part right now. So, like the exiles in Babylon we are to be good citizens and at the same time live in a distinctive way so that we function as salt and light in the family, the work place, the community, and in the nation. Salt seasons and preserves, light illuminates and guides and that according to Jesus that is exactly what we should be in our world and our day, even in or maybe particularly in the worry of these times.
John in the gospel that bears his name tells of an occasion when Jesus told those gathered around listening that he is the Light of the World. It got him into bother with the Pharisees on that occasion but the amazing thing is that at another time, during the Sermon on the Mount, he told his followers that they were the light of the world. As Christian the light we share is not our own light or wisdom, it is a reflected light, the light of Jesus who lights the darkness of this world and brings life to those who trust him. So go light your world.