Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. Jeremiah 29:5-7
From Pastor Brady
The Jewish exiles were deported to Babylon and you better believe they had only one mindset- “Get me out of here!” “How long O God?” And they had a false prophet named Hananiah telling them that they would only be there for two years. But God would leave them there for 70 years (an entire generation). Our Fighter Verse reveals what God really wanted them to do.
The truth is we think about our lives in the same way as these exiles. Never content. “Get me out of here” becomes our prayer or personal mission. But how often does our discontent just lead to more discontentment, or as Billy Joel put it in his song Moving Out:
Anthony works in the grocery store
Savin’ his pennies for someday
Mama Leone left a note on the door
She said, “Sonny, move out to the country”
Workin’ too hard can give you
A heart attack
You oughta know by now
Who needs a house out in Hackensack
Is that all you get with your money
It seems such a waste of time
If that’s what it’s all about
Mama if that’s movin’ up
Then I’m movin’ out
I’m movin’ out
Unable to “move up” we decide to “move out.” But the Christian on mission moves down not up. They move in not out.
God told the exiles to move in not out. To live in Babylon the same way he had told them to live in Jerusalem. He told them to move down not up. To seek the welfare of others not themselves. To serve their city. To seek the flourishing of their neighborhood.
The truth is that nearly every conversation I have with someone about their future plans, it involves looking forward to moving up or moving out. Rarely do I hear someone talk about moving down or moving in. Rarely do I hear someone who has embraced their exile. We simply don’t look at ourselves as missionaries that need to move in and serve and embrace lowliness. Oh we love the missionaries. Thank God for the Copleys and the Hillmans and the Darlene Gablers; those who move into a different culture and move down into love and service of those people. We’re so glad they do it- so we don’t have to. But we do. We do have to. Because it is what we are made for. It is our calling just as much as it is theirs. We are in exile too. Our mission field is just outside the front door (and maybe even inside the house).
Jesus moved in not out. He moved down not up. He did it for love of others. Not love for himself (assimilation) or love for his people or family (isolation). He came to earth for all people, of all nations, and all times (incarnation). He moved into your life, your heart. He has made your heart his dwelling place. And he is teaching your heart to move down and move in, not move up and move out.