Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010 (reviewed by Hank Griffith)
I’d like to conclude this short review by giving you a glimpse of something specific from Gospel in Life. In the first session on “The City: The World That Is” the participants are to study Jeremiah 29:4-14. This passage has a direct application to our life as Christians in the world today:
- The Jews in exile are to “settle down” (v.5). They are to plan for long-term involvement and invest in the community: “Build houses” and “plant gardens” (v. 5.)
- They are to “increase in numbers there; do not decease” (v. 6b). This means they are to get stronger and more numerous, but it also means that they are not to lose their unique identity. They must stand firm in the faith.
- When Jeremiah says, “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city” (v. 7) he means they are to seek their own prosperity in such a way that it benefits the city. They are to use their gifts and resources in such a way that helps the whole city. They are not to use the city for their own advancement, but are to seek its advancement.
- They are to “Pray to the Lord for it” (v. 7b). God calls His people to pray for the city.
- Note that God’s denunciation of the false prophets in verses 8 and 9 comes immediately after the directions in vs. 4-7 to settle and be involved in the city and to seek its peace. The prophets’ advice is contrasted with God’s; therefore we conclude that these false prophets were telling the opposite direction of verses 4 to 7 – namely to stay detached and outside the city and remain hostile to it.
These comments remind me that believers are to be salt and light in our fallen world. It means working for and praying for the peace and prosperity of our “city”, i.e. wherever we live. This implies involvement, not detachment. We often criticize what’s happening but we don’t get involved.