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.” Jeremiah 29:4-7
This passage from the book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament has always stuck with me as a way we ought to live. The prophet Jeremiah was deeply distraught about his people being carried into exile in heathen Babylon. Imagine what it must have been like for this prophet and his proud people, God’s people, to be carried into the “devil’s den”. At least that is how they saw it.
But God saw it a different way. This was an opportunity for them to become a shining light of God’s love and provision for people who did not know the true God. Indeed, their neighbors worshipped many gods and idols.
I am careful to understand that the Bible was written for people at certain times and places, and not all passages can be cleanly interpreted into present time and culture. Yet this passage seems to be timeless and meant for all of us.
We can decide to curse the culture that we are living in, call it godless, and ask God’s judgment on the land. Or, we can love the people right where they are, not judge them, and work to make wherever we live a place that honors God.
You know, grow where we are planted…
Prayer: Lord, help us to make wherever we are better for us having been there, Amen