Every community has issues. Some may only have minor concerns while others have major problems. I was reminded of this as I was listening to a sci-fi novel yesterday while out for a walk. The characters were talking about how a particular community had become more rundown than they remembered it. That got me to thinking of these verses:
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 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. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. – Jeremiah 29:4-7, ESV
The message to Jeremiah was for God’s people to go and be an active part of their communities. There were others, false prophets, that were telling the Israelites to isolate themselves in order to “remain pure.” God had a different plan. He wanted the Israelites to be a part of their communities. He wanted the Israelites to rub off on the community. God wanted to change the community for the better. He told the Israelites to actively pray for the community and for its peace and health and wellness. Their prayers and their active involvement would ultimately result in peace and health and wellness for God’s people.
This hits home as we talk about how our communities have issues. As congregations are we getting together and praying for our communities? Are we getting actively involved in them? It’s easy to set ourselves apart, walling ourselves in the fortresses that we call churches and lament what is going wrong outside the walls. That’s not the way God would have us do things, however. He would have us be engaged, not only physically but spiritually, too.
Would you seek the welfare of your community? If you aren’t already, would you actively pray for your community? Would you do so regularly? Also, if you aren’t already, how could you become more involved in your community? How could your church be more involved? If we want our communities to grow and improve and become places of peace, health, and wellness, we must take an active role. If we don’t, we will find that our own peace, health, and wellness will be negatively impacted by our troubled communities.