“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 29:7, NIV
In suburbanized America it is not difficult to have a “gated community” mentality – to define all of life by our own environment. The plight of the oppressed, poor and weak easily go undetected in our own secure worlds. But the Gospel turns everything on its head, including how we look at peace and prosperity. According to Jeremiah it is measured more by the world around us than we may desire.
The Israelite hope was to have repaired what was destroyed by sin in the Garden of Eden where everything had once been all right. One word articulated this yearning – “Shalom” – a word that communicates that all between God and man, all mankind, and man and creation, has been restored. This was the yearning of every Jew.
Isaiah envisioned this hope: “No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise.” (Isaiah 60:18)
Calls by the prophets for Justice and Mercy extended this hope beyond the comforts of an individual’s tent. The promised Messiah would rule “with justice and righteousness.” None other than Jesus the Messiah restores “Shalom” in the hearts of those who love Him and eventually in all creation.
Until then we are left to live in a broken world. As Christians we are not allowed to leave others to suffer alone. Such comfort reflects a distant and impotent Gospel. The wounds of our world are for us to embrace. Further, Jeremiah teaches that we cannot prosper unless our “city” does.
We are connected. This is the heart of the Gospel. Jesus, in the comforts and glory of the city of God, took on the brokenness and affliction of the universe. No wonder all creation groans for Him!
QUESTION: A Simple Prayer: “Dear God. Break my heart for this broken world. Amen.”