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Peace in our time

August 19, 2012

Yesterday I blogged about discovering a new perspective on Jeremiah 29:11. But there is a further dimension of this that it is essential that we grasp!

Like Israel we (the church) have a view of the city or community that we live in that separates us into them and us; they are unsaved, the world, ungodly – us are Christian, saved,  (the) faithful.And we find it much more comfortable to stick in our ghetto, we prefer to trade with Christian businesses (is it really necessary for my lawyer to be a Christian?) We are certain that if we get involved with the world that we will be contaminated, we will end up messing around with sin. We will not not how to react when people swear around us – or get drunk, or whatever… so it really is best to “stick with our own”.

But I am struck that this is exactly the same situation that Israel faced. They were in Babylon, among people who definitely did not tolerate their customs and foreign ways. they had been exiled so that they would learn to be good Babylonian citizens and learn to embrace the culture and ways of the empire.

Here is a prime case where we should expect God to say, “come out of them”, “stay pure”, “don’t compromise” eventually I’ll bring you out and it will all be ok again. But God says the opposite:

In a simply shocking statement they are told (v7) to pray for the peace (shalom) and prosperity of the city.

They are to get involved – long term – and become part of the community and culture around them. They are to be what Jesus would later call “salt and light”, they are to belong rather than be separate.

I have to say I and the churches I have been around are not good at this. We see the city as the world that we are to keep out of – at best we do hit and run into the world to try and rescue a few people, but it is not comfortable. Our prayers are far more likely to be against: against the rising tide of immorality, against the prevalence of other religions or secularists, against those who use the law to marginalise us, against abortion, against gays, against…

Jeremiah clearly had a similar problem, so much so that he had to tell the people “don’t listen to the prophets who say things `in my name`.

We have to choose to ask for Gods blessing, Gods wholeness (shalom), Gods prosperity on the empire that has a different religion, different moral standard, different culture, different values …

Now how do I do that?

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