Thursday, August 16, 2012

God's Guide to Life in the Big City

Often, when a young person is headed off to college, or makes some other big transition in life, an older Christian relative or friend will write them a note referencing Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you a future and a hope.

I got several such notes when I was in my twenties.  They've pretty much dried up the past few years; a sure sign that I've hit middle-age.  The implicit point of referencing that Scripture is that God has a wonderful plan for my life, and that if I live for Him, I'll get to enjoy the bliss and purpose for which I was created.  I would go so far as to say that this verse is the most well-known and popular verse in all of Jeremiah.

Interestingly, the people who were its first readers probably didn't see Jeremiah 29:11 as good news.  They were captives in a strange city (Babylon) far from home, where the people didn't speak their language, keep their moral standards, or believe in their God.  In such an alien environment, some Jews decided to assimilate themselves into Babylonian society.  Others isolated themselves into a Jewish ghetto of sorts, avoiding any contact with their pagan conquerors.  Jeremiah 29 is the letter that the prophet wrote to these exiles, telling them how God wanted to them to live in this foreign city.  His words didn't make either the assimilators or the isolationists happy. 

Much like those Jews from long ago, we are called to live for God in a city where most don't talk, act, or believe as we do.  And we face the same dichotomy: Do we fit in with our neighbors or shun them?  These words from Jeremiah are especially applicable to our lives today.  This Sunday, we'll focus on Jeremiah 29:4-14. 


Makettles said...

Interesting. I work for the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus.
Everyday I wake up and ask myself these questions, "Where is God taking me today?, What are HIS plans? .
Its hard enough in a real/normal world. at a circus? Its a circus!
Your blogs make inspiring reading!

Jeff Berger said...

Wow, you work for the circus? I'm sure you've got some stories. Thanks for the kind words.

Makettles said...

Yes I am the on location teacher . I run a school for about 16 students. I have all grades from KG to 10th Grade. Kind of like a home school.In trying to uphold my faith I am often left lonely. I write and read and of course subtly pass God's love to my students.