“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).
Every once in a while, Jeremiah surprises us. He wasn’t enthusiastic about his call to proclaim God’s judgment on Israel. He didn’t enjoy living through events he predicted, and he made his feelings known. He was tough on the remnant of believers left in Jerusalem and on the exiles living in Babylon. But we can cherry-pick some words of encouragement from the “weeping prophet.” No matter where you take up residence, work hard to make it a better place. If it prospers, you will too.
Followers of Jesus should be contributors to the peace and prosperity of the communities we live in. Many small towns and city neighborhoods are rebuilding their economies and seeking a healthy way of life for their residents. Participating in local efforts can make a difference for everyone. For instance, the annual penny war sponsored by merchants in my town funds a food pantry that poor people depend on. A grass roots environmental group I joined is mobilizing farmers, industry leaders, resort owners, and outdoor types to fight toxic algae blooms in a waterway we all depend on. My church cleans up the fairgrounds after the tractor pull because someone needs to do it. The potential for fostering peace and prosperity is limitless. Let’s make our presence felt.