Also, 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
In His letter through the prophet Jeremiah to His people living in Exile, God says: Seek the peace and prosperity of the city! What?? Isn’t the city where pagans live? Isn’t the city filled with idols and false gods? God has the audacity to tell us to pray and seek the peace and prosperity of such a place? Yes!
So how should Christians respond to this? In his book Kingdom Prologue, Dr. Meredith Kline put it this way:
‘The city is not to be regarded as an evil invention of ungodly fallen man…The ultimate goal set before humanity at the very beginning was that human-culture should take city-form…The cultural mandate given at creation was a mandate to build a city. Now, after the fall, the city is still a benefit, serving humankind as refuge from the howling wilderness condition into which the fallen human race, exiled from paradise, has been driven.’
What Kline is getting at is that even if the Fall of Man had never occurred, God’s purpose and plan was to develop and build His city. But now because of our sin we are in a howling wilderness and nothing is as it should be. We see this economically, socially, relationally, and spiritually, all seems to be under the shadow of darkness. Does that mean that the idea of the city is bad? No. So while the city is certainly filled with problems, God’s vision for the city is still with purpose made possible because of the healing blood of Jesus Christ. He lost His peace and prosperity in order that we may have and experience the ultimate peace and the ultimate prosperity. This Advent Season (and in all seasons!) may we love our city with the same unmerited, undeserved favor that has been given to us by Christ.