Recently I heard a sermon about seeking the Shalom of the city.
“In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight–a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be.” -Cornelius Plantinga Jr.
I have been thinking about this sermon a lot. What does it mean, for me, to seek the Shalom of the city I live in? Join me in looking at the notes from the sermon, and together we can ask God, “what does this look like for me?”:
1. We must begin to own the fact that as a follower of Jesus we are exiles in this land.
1 Peter 2:11 (NIV) Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. John 15:19 (NIV) If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Romans 12:2 (NIV) Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
We need to keep reminding ourselves this is not our home. Although we are living here now it’s not the perfect place where we will live eternally. We need to live IN this world but not be OF this world.
2. We must recognize that God has placed us where we are.
Jeremiah 29:4 (NIV) This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Jeremiah 29:7 (NIV) 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.”
God has placed us where he wants us to be. IN the neighborhood he wants us to live in, the job he wants us to work at, in the relationships he wants us to be in. He placed us here so we can be a blessing to someone else.
3. We must engage in the city while maintaining our spiritual identity.
Psalm 9:11 (NCV) Sing praises to the Lord who is king on Mount Zion. Tell the nations what he has done. Psalm 105:1-2 (NCV) Give thanks to the Lord and pray to him. Tell the nations what he has done. Sing to him; sing praises to him. Tell about all his miracles. Mark 16:15 (NCV) Jesus said to his followers, “Go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone.
Not only do we need to live in the world he placed us in, we need to engage in it. We need to be purposeful in our relationships, good stewards in our cities.
4. We must actively seek out the Shalom of the city.
Jeremiah 29:7(NCV) Also do good things for the city where I sent you as captives. Pray to the Lord for the city where you are living, because if good things happen in the city, good things will happen to you also.”
We need to stop worrying about our own release from this place of exile. We need to be concerned with the common good of those who have oppressed us. The Lord says that if good things happen to the city then good will also happen to us. When we put others first the Lord is pleased, he will bless us.
Ezekiel 16:49 (NCV) “‘This was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were proud and had plenty of food and lived in great comfort, but she did not help the poor and needy.
As Christians we too can get greedy and overfed. Not just by food and materials. We can get over fed with the Bible. We often think that if we are in every Bible study, worship group, prayer team, and serving in all areas of the church we are doing good for city. But we are NOT. We are only feeding ourselves and not sharing our knowledge with the city. We are not being active with our faith in our communities. We need to find a balance of growing and being fed, while still sharing and reaching the lost.
Jeremiah 22:16 (NIV) He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the Lord.
Again, we too often forget to care for the needy and poor. If we are actively being fed (but not over fed!) then we should know what it means to know the Lord. The Lord is for the poor and needy, and so are we to be.
So what does this mean for me? It means being in the word daily, meditating on God’s very word. It means seeking his will and direction for my life and for each and every day. I need to seek out those who do not know the Lord. I need to love them and care for them. I need to be Christ to them in a dark world. I need to care for the poor, not just ones who are poor financially but ones who are poor in spirit. I need to care for all people in my city. I need to find the good in al people around me, even if they hurt me.
what about you? what is God telling you through his word?
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