Last week, we look at the elements of building a godly family. The exiles were to flourish and to build their homes and families in the land. Today, we will look at verse 7 of Jeremiah Chapter 7: seek the welfare of the city.
I took this picture last year when I was in the plane. As the plane was landing, I caught a picturesque landscape of my city: Kuching. Sometimes we need to look at our city from another perspective so that we can learn to appreciate and enjoy all that it has to offer.
To the exiles in Babylon, God commanded them to seek the welfare of the city.
(3)Welfare of the city
Verse 7 says, “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”.
The exiles were living in the land of their enemies. But, God told them to pray for the land and to pray for the Babylonians who have been mistreating them and making them slaves. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Tim 2:1-2, that when the authority over us is evil, all the more we need to pray for them.
It is hard to pray for something you don’t care about. It is even harder to pray for people you don’t even like—your enemies! When God asked them to pray for Babylon, God wanted them to care about the city and its welfare. Seek the welfare of the city because this city is your home. Care for it, love it and love its people although they were different in terms of languages, cultures and religions, and pray for it.
In Hebrew, the word “welfare” or “shalom” means, peace. It is not just “peace”. “Shalom” means a lot more than just peace: it encompasses completeness, wholeness, health, prosperity, safety soundness, peace, tranquillity and harmony.
“Seek the welfare of the city”, do good to all. Do not attempt harm or revenge against your enemies. The Israelites were to bring God’s peace to the city of their enemies. They were to bring the well being to the city where their enemies lived. They were also to bring prosperity to the city that treated them like slaves.
Generations later, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), Jesus, sat on the mount and caught, “Blessed are the peace makers for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9)
Matthew 5:43–45, Jesus taught, “You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to this world, to put chaos in order, to give us peace, peace beyond understanding. And if we really seek His peace, His peace will flow through us, transforming us to become peacebearers in our city today.
Grow roots in this place, care for the things happening in this city. For in its welfare, we will find our welfare.
There is a short prayer in the Book of Common Prayer which the Anglicans use. The prayer goes like this, “Lord, make us full of discontent as long as there are brothers and sisters living and dying in hunger.”
Make this be our prayer too, that we can hear the cries and the sufferings of the people around us. Let us not be so happy and comfortable with ourselves that we become selfish and ignorant to what is going on in the society. May God open our eyes to see the needs of the marginalised people around us and inspire us to do something for them for the Glory of God.
In the welfare of Kuching, we will find our shalom. May God use you to be His channel of love and peace to our city. For our friends who are reading from another country, may you be blessed to be a blessing. May you flourish in your city and may the shalom of God be with you and your city.