Peace and prosperity
Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.
- from Jeremiah 29:7
Jeremiah’s readers have been carried into exile. They aren’t immigrants looking for a better life or even refugees looking to escape a bad situation back home. They were carried off against their will to a place they feared and despised. And Jeremiah has the temerity to call them to seek the peace and prosperity of Babylon.
Peace and prosperity. List the things that the exiles might wish to happen to Babylon and “peace and prosperity” probably wouldn’t naturally be at the top of the list. Destruction. Conviction. Repentance. All of these would make our lists, but not peace or prosperity.
Behind that phrase – “peace and prosperity” – is the Hebrew word “shalom.” Shalom is the state where everything is in its proper place, a state of quiet harmony, tranquility. The people who experience shalom are people who are being blessed by God.
Jeremiah calls people whose lives have been disrupted to seek God’s blessing for their captors. This is what God’s people were always supposed to be about. God’s people bring God’s blessing to the whole world, even at a cost to themselves.
Look around you. Where do you have opportunities to bring God’s blessing to people around you? Where can you seek peace and prosperity for your neighbors? Where can you be a bringer of shalom?