What city? Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday

Tuesday March 29, 2011 Ever feel out of place in your city? Your neighborhood? Your playgroup?

I have. And I've wondered how I should respond. I've pondered what I should be teach my sons about their place in this world.

A group of God-followers found themselves in the middle of a foreign culture in the book of Jeremiah. They struggled with a people whose values didn’t agree with theirs.

Sound familiar?

How do you respond to the city when the values of the people aren’t yours?

On Sunday, our pastor reminded us, “By our actions we show which city we belong to: The city of God or the city of man.” The city of man focuses on self. The city of God focuses on holiness and generosity.

Augustine expressed this idea: “Tell me what a people love and I will tell you what city it is.”

The Israelite exiles – stuck in the middle of Babylonian culture – were instructed to live this way in Jeremiah 29: 5-7:

“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 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.”

So, how do we then live? In the middle of those who value what we don't, who don't esteem what we hold dear, how do we and our families live? We focus on love, holiness, and generosity in the midst of a culture that focuses on self.

We don’t assimiliate and lose ourselves in a foreign culture, but we don’t huddle up either. We live in the midst of it all, knowing that we’re here for a reason. We build and settle, plant and eat, seek peace and prosperity where we’re planted. And we show love.

How better to show who we belong to?

Linking up today with Michelle at Graceful for Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday and Jen at Finding Heaven Today for Soli deo Gloria.


Debbie said...

This spoke to me this morning in a big way. This is exactly what I'm struggling with right now. Only for me, the "city" is a small town where I do not fit at all. They tend to appreciate and value things that I don't. Money, mostly... and a lukewarm sense of faith that's all too prevalent.

Therefore, I *get* this in a big way.

Unknown said...

I love how you put in generosity in there -- being a servant to others is such a huge way to love people. And a way to be a "tangible Jesus" to those who do not know Him.

Stephanie M. Page said...

I can relate! Great post! Thank you.

Gaby said...

I liked your post because I have always loved that story and that scripture. We are not called it isolate ourselves from other who don't know Christ, but to live among them as fully devoted followers. How else will they know that the Lord is good?

rjerdee said...

Wonderful thoughts, Laura...brings to mind the skirmish going on in Murfreesboro, TN...an ugly twist of human nature

Karen said...

Hmmm, where does our witness shine brighter, in the light or in the darkness? Good lesson, Laura.

Amy Sullivan said...

"The city of God focuses on holiness and generosity." You know this is my favorite line!

I live in the South, which is new to me AND I live close to a super liberal city, which isn't so new, but just more in-your-face because I'm in the South. ??

Good reminder for us to fight the urge to "huddle".

Faith said...

I can totally relate to this! sadly, it's how I felt in our former church!! (towards the end of our time there.... after our full time pastor left...) too hard to explain...but..let's just say my husband and I were longing to "go deeper" and really live our loud for Christ and it just seemed like we didn't fit in to that "city". Excellent post....

Deidra said...

"...we don't huddle up either." Yes, yes, yes! Love that!

The Jeremiah 29:5-7 passage used to be taped to my bedside table. I'd pray it at night when I went to bed, and then again when I woke up in the morning. Over time, it became a blessing of words for me and for city where I lived.

Michelle DeRusha said...

This is an incredibly convicting post, Laura -- and it has so much depth on some many levels. I love the passage from Jeremiah (wish I'd had that handy when we moved to Nebraska from New England -- that definitely felt like an exile!). And I love your reminder to resist the urge to huddle.

Thanks for linking up...and I am so sorry it's taken me nearly a week to visit your post!

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