As Christians, we should work for the good of cities. The idea appears sound. It appears that working for the good of the city is something we should definitely do.
But some Christians struggle with the idea. They would rather retreat from the city than work towards its good.
There are many objections we could explore but the one I want to tackle today is that this world is not our home. We belong to Jesus’ kingdom. As citizens of Jesus’ heavenly kingdom, we should work for its good but not the good of an earthly kingdom. Instead, we should distance ourselves from the world so that we are not tainted by the evil found therein.
While some make the above argument, it is not biblical. Instead, the biblical view is that we should do all we can to work to bring about change in our cities now.
Why should we work to bring about change in our cities?
For the same reason Judah was supposed to work to bring about change in Babylon. As you read through the history of Israel, one thing becomes apparent — they were a rebellious people. Instead of worshipping the Lord, they worshipped other gods and relied on other nations to fight their battles instead of the Lord. As punishment for their unfaithfulness, God allowed His people to be conquered and exiled from the Promised Land. Israel was taken first by the Assyrians, then later Judah was taken by the Babylonians.
Right before the Babylonian exile, a number of false prophets told the people that they would come back to Jerusalem in just two short years, but that wasn’t God’s plan. In fact, Judah wasn’t coming back anytime soon. Instead they were going to stay in Babylon for 70 years (Jer. 29:10).
While they would ultimately come back to the Promised Land, God didn’t want Judah to live as exiles. Instead he wanted them to take root. Jeremiah tells them in chapter 29 starting in verse 5:
“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…” (Jer. 29:5-7a).
They were to take root — to have sons and daughters, to give them in marriage, and even to work for the good of the city. That might seem odd, but look at the rest of verse 7. It says,
“for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jer. 29:7b).
In other words, as the city prospers, they will prosper. As the city flourishes, they will flourish. That same idea applies to us. While our home is the kingdom to come, we live here now.
Instead of living as strangers, as exiles, we are to take root. We aren’t to live on the fringes, we aren’t to pull back. Instead, we are to work for the good of our country, city, and community. We are to work for good because as the city prospers, we prosper. As the city flourishes, we flourish.
While we are here, we are to work to make things better. We are to show the world a sliver of the kingdom to come. As we do so, we will not only enjoy a better life, but we will act as witnesses of the kingdom for which we find our hope. Hopefully, others will find their hope in the kingdom to come too.
Watch the sermon from which this post was developed.