Over the last couple weeks we have looked at Jeremiah 29 verses 4-6 and started conversation around how God intentionally places us in our communities and what that means for our relationships in those places. I think that verse 7 is a great summary to the previous 3 verses but it has taken me a while to figure out how to really tie it all together.
Also, seek the prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper (Jeremiah 29:7).
I believe that one aspect of seeking the prosperity of the city is tied to the previous verse that talks about planting gardens and eating what they produce, but I think it also goes beyond that. I believe that part of being a Christian that has the best interests of my city in mind means that I get involved in public life. That could look like a parent getting involved in their child’s sports team, volunteering in a local school, sitting on a community board or anything in between. I don’t know if we can truly be for our city if we’re not involved in it.
I also believe that showing that we care for the things in our city allows us to have a voice and stand up for injustices, because we have proven ourselves through relationship with those in our community. Getting involved in our communities helps us to be more educated on the issues that are affecting those around us while also giving more validity to speak about them. I find that in Christian community this can often be a difficult thing for us to do, because it might mean interacting with people that don’t believe the same things we do and that can get messy. T
here are conversations constantly happening in our country and around the world on issues of sexuality, race, and other difficult subjects, and too often we attempt to engage in those discussions without fully understanding the issues. If we made more of an attempt to really understand the concerns in our communities I believe we would do a better job of bring light and hope to the places we live.
The latter half of this verse talks about praying for our communities. Praying for my community and my city has played a large role in my desire to seek its prosperity and peace. I fully believe that your heart will change for a place or a situation the more you pray for it. Praying for your neighbourhood gives you new eyes to see what is going on around you. It has also helped to remind me that God is already at work in the lives of people in my community. In order to be the most effective in what He has called me to do here, I need to be searching out where He is already moving and work to be a part of that.
Praying for our city also means praying for the people that our lead our city, whether we are always in agreement with them or not. One of the things that sticks out to me around the intentional places that God leads His people is that God knows who will be leading cities and countries and He takes us there anyway. Ultimately, God is bigger than them so as we pray for them, we need to do so with love.
The last part of this verse talks about prosperity. While I believe that can apply to financial prosperity, I also believe the intention is bigger than that. A truly prosperous city is not one that is only well off financially, but it is a city rich in relationships and a sense of community. So many things would change in our cities if there was a greater depth in relationships at a person-person level as well as at a broader community level.
I feel like there is so much more I could write on all 4 of the verses in this passage but for now I’ll leave you with a question: What does it look like for you, in your context, to follow the instructions of this passage in Jeremiah?
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”