Live like an exile: Bless the city.

IMG_3107 - Version 2

7But 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.
Jeremiah 29:7

The captives from Jerusalem abiding in Babylon might not be blamed for maintaining a self-protective edge. Why should they give themselves wholeheartedly to the success of Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon? Surely they want to get back to Jerusalem as quick as possible. They are longing for home. Wouldn’t it be a kind of betrayal if they pursued good for all of Babylon’s residents?

God has a surprising word for these exiles: Seek the welfare of the city and pray for the city. If the city thrives then they will thrive. God does not want them to isolate themselves nor does He want them to engage only for self-preservation. Rather, God wants them to actively seek the peace, the shalom, the well-being of Babylon.

Like these exiles, the Church of Jesus lives with a promise of what is to come. If we seek the welfare of our city we must nurture a vision of peace and blessing shaped by the presence of Jesus Christ our King. We proclaim Gospel Truth revealing who God is and we radiate His glory through persistent intercession and generous godly labour.

You and Your City

On our 10,000 KM journey from Vancouver and back we went through a lot of cities: Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas, Santa Fe, Odessa, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco.

From the road its difficult to appreciate them. To know them and enjoy them one has to exit and stay a while. It helps too to meet someone in the city and find out what they enjoy. The longer one stays with the “real city people” the more possible it becomes to get into the “flow” of that city.

During our holiday I read through the book of Acts. Its possible to map the movement of the Gospel via people as they left from Jerusalem and went to cities all around the Mediterranean.  When they “landed” in those cities people like Luke and Paul got into the flow of commerce and accepted cultural dialogue. It seems that they kept a positive posture toward the city and its inhabitants. Here’s what it was like when they landed in Philippi (Acts 16:11-13):

11We boarded a boat at Troas and sailed straight across to the island of Samothrace, and the next day we landed at Neapolis. 12From there we reached Philippi, a major city of that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. And we stayed there several days.

13On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. 14One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. 15She was baptized along with other members of her household, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed.

What’s your posture toward the city or the community you live in?

Love it? Hate it? Avoid it? Live it?

Here’s a recent tongue-in-cheek- commentary on what its like to get into the flow of Vancouver.