Are you frustrated with our culture? Are you heartbroken over the dilemmas our children are facing, especially in public schools? Do you feel like you don’t even recognize your own community?
You could be experiencing some of what the Israelites went through when they were taken captive to Babylon. They also found themselves trapped in a place they didn’t want to be and did not recognize their community. They were no longer in Jerusalem.
And in the book of Jeremiah, God told the Israelites exactly what to do. He said, “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease” (29: 5-6). He even tells them to seek the welfare of the city; pursue peace. And if they help cultivate peace and pray for the city, they will discover their own peace (7).
I imagine the Israelites believed it would be impossible to pursue peace in their captive community, but this would be their tension of circumstances and trust.
What is your tension? Do you feel like you are living in your own “Babylon”? It seems as if followers of Jesus no longer have the home field advantage, no longer in Jerusalem.
So, if this is true, what if we applied the same principle to your circumstances? What if we chose to pursue peace and pray for our community? What would it look like if we built homes instead of putting up walls, planted gardens instead of throwing rocks, or cultivated relationships instead of ignoring people?
Do you think pursuing peace in your community could look like loving your neighbor, even though they look or act differently than you? Could it be starting an after-school Bible club in your neighborhood school, so those children not attending church could hear about how much God loves them? Could it be partnering with local missions (humanitarian or evangelical) paying attention to the least of these?
All these Kingdom building things like bringing heaven to earth requires action but pursuing peace in your community has a bonus: your peace.