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; and plant gardens, and eat their produce . . . And 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 have welfare. (Jeremiah 29:5–7)
If that was true for God’s exiles in Babylon, it would seem to be even more true for Christian exiles in this very “Babylonian” world. What, then, shall we do?
We should do the ordinary things that need to be done: build houses; live in them; plant gardens. This does not contaminate you if you do it all for the real King and not just for eye service as men-pleasers. Seek the welfare of the place where God has sent you. Think of yourself as sent there by God. Because you are.
Pray to the Lord on behalf of your city. Ask for great and good things to happen for the city. Evidently God is not indifferent to its welfare. One reason he is not is this: In the welfare of the city his people find welfare.
This does not mean we give up our exile orientation. In fact we will do most good for this world by keeping a steadfast freedom from its beguiling attractions. We will serve our city best by getting our values from the “city which is to come” (Hebrews 13:14). We will do our city most good by calling as many of its citizens as we can to be citizens of the “Jerusalem above” (Galatians 4:26).
Let’s live so that the natives will want to meet our King.