Monday, September 28, 2015

How To Seek The Welfare Of The City


I know, crazy, right?
The verse immediately preceding Jeremiah 29:7 is seldom mentioned by churches seeking to justify hip, missional, in-the-city-for-the-city ministry: 
Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. (Jeremiah 29:6) 
The context of God's command to seek the peace of the city wasn't a wish that His people enter whole-heartedly into engagement with Babylon's pluralistic society. The context was His desire that they "bear sons and daughters," that they "multiply there and not decrease." Not a call for hipster Jews to become art patrons and tattoo parlor habitues, but for the people of God to bear sons and daughters, to multiply in Babylon and not decrease, to make their homes there and trust Him for the duration of the exile. 
It was, most of all, a call to a child-fearing, fertility-averse exiled people to trust Him by bearing children rather than fearing the city and avoiding fertility. Applicable in the same way today? Certainly, though you likely won't hear it in most churches which claim Jeremiah 29:7 as a theme verse. Fear and rejection of fruitfulness walk hand-in-hand today as much as in the exile. God isn't telling the Jews not to fear engagement with alien peoples and alien religions. He's telling them not to fear bearing children in an alien city. 
Has a "missional" church ever commended childbearing and fruitfulness in the context of Jeremiah 29:7
 So...seek the welfare of the city by taking wives and having children? Come on. Be real.

2 comments:

  1. That's interesting! It makes sense in the wider context of the entire Bible, but am I right in interpreting that this is a list? It's not necessarily saying to seek the city's welfare BY having babies (though that will certainly help), but to multiply as well as engage the city. It still doesn't make sense to build a bunch of art galleries (I was unaware of this phenomenon), but there is an implied dual citizenship... love the city, pray for it, be involved in it (and let your brood help you in that).

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    1. I wouldn't say it's making a list so much as it's saying to simply LIVE in the city of their exile. But what is living? Living is building houses and taking wives and raising babies. A lot of "missional" people don't have many children, if any at all; in that, they are typical of millenials. But I think Scripture makes it clear that the primary way to engage is to make babies. Art galleries, which I totally dig on, flow out of that.

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