A Word to Exiles

JeremiahAn exposition of Jeremiah 29:1-32. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, August 24, 2008.
Do you ever find yourself feeling “out of place” in this world? Those moments when you think, “Are these people from another planet? What’s wrong with them?” I find myself thinking like that more and more. Most of my time is spent dealing with Christian people. I’m dealing with church members or other pastors and granted, some of them can be strange, but I find myself scratching my head wondering why some folks just don’t get it. As a police chaplain I come across people whom I’m convinced are from somewhere else. I don’t live like they live. I don’t think like they think. Their whole world is radically different from mine and like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I’m not proud of that – in fact I’m a little ashamed of it. That means that I’m not doing a good job of rubbing elbows with those who desperately need the gospel. And understand me – I’m not talking about radical, weird lifestyles – I’m talking about ordinary people who are nice, descent and loving who are just totally clueless about the gospel and the things of God. And because of that our perspectives are totally at odds. I don’t get them and they don’t get me. When that happens we are experiencing the fruit of what Augustine, the 4th century North African monk referred to as the “Two Cities.” Augustine taught that there are two cities: the city of man and the city of God. The city of man is of this world. It is about power and influence. Nations, armies and kingdoms. The city of God is the church. Now as the people of God we live in both cities. We are citizens of the kingdom of God by the new birth. And yet we live in the city of man. We are part of this world’s system. How do we live in both worlds? Are we to shun the city of man? Are we to seek to distance ourselves from things political? I know there are Christians who think participating in politics at any level is a bit like polishing the brass on the Titanic – the ships going down, don’t waste your time or energy. But is that biblical? Granted we are aliens and strangers in this life but how are we to live? I think we find some insight in Jeremiah 29.

Text: Jeremiah 29:1-32

For years Jeremiah had prophesied the coming judgment. The nation dismissed him as some wild, over zealous fanatic. But judgment did come. The Babylonians moved, exported the best and brightest, burned the rest. Jeremiah was left in Jerusalem and now he is instructed by the Lord to write to the exiles. What you would say in the letter? I’m afraid I’d be tempted to say, “Ha! I told you so!” In this letter there are some principles for living in exile.

  1. Bloom where you are planted. (29:1-7)
  2. We turn a deaf ear to the voice of the lying prophets. (29:8-9, 15-32)
  3. We are to tune our hearts to God’s good and gracious promise. (29:10-14)

How are we to live in this fallen, broken, increasingly hostile world? Bloom where we are planted, turn a deaf ear to the voice of the lying prophets, and tune our heart to God’s gracious promise.

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