Welcome to Occupy Till I Come! In case you just stumbled upon our current series, we’re focusing on the role God desires Christians to have in public affairs. If we have learned anything at all in our recent past, it is that Christians have become far too adept at being spectators rather than gladiators! Christianity has been thrown into the lion’s den of public policy and opinion and, rather than fighting to defend what we hold dear, sadly, we have sat in the bleachers, watching religious freedom being attacked and hoping for a superhero to arrive and save the day.
Let’s be real. Our Christian heritage and the foundation of our American republic will not be rescued by superman emerging from Air Force One…regardless of who we think that should be! If we wish to re-establish our Christian values as the centerpiece of American democracy, we must heed the Lord’s command to us: “Occupy till I come!”
How do we do that? We’ll get to nuts and bolts later, but let’s begin by learning from our ancient Jewish roots. Jeremiah 29:11 is a very familiar verse, and we will meditate upon it in three different translations; but with a very different perspective than usual. Put your eyes on each of these translations and read it slowly and deliberately:
For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.~Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB)
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.~Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)
For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.~Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
Now, with laser focus, make a mental note or jot down your answer to this question: In only three words, what are the Lord’s thoughts/plans? (Hint: the translations use three different words to describe the object of His thoughts/plans.)
That is a familiar passage that Christians often claim as their own, when really, verse 10 makes it clear the Lord is speaking to Israel, the nation who went into Babylonian exile. HOWEVER, the principle remains, and that is what we’re after. We can’t claim the promises of this passage in the same context as Israel, but Christians may glean from the fruit of that passage and make application to situations in our own lives. That’s what we are about to do!
Do you remember your three words? Good! Now, back up to Jeremiah 29:7 and read each translation slowly and deliberately:
Seek the prosperity of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord in its behalf; for in its prosperity will be your prosperity.~Jeremiah 29:7 (NASB)
And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.~Jeremiah 29:7 (NKJV)
And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.~Jeremiah 29:7 (NLT)
What were your three words from Jeremiah 29:11? Hopefully, you came up with something similar to prosperity, peace and good. Those are God’s thoughts and plans for His people, and for us!
According to Jeremiah 29:7, what are we to work for/seek, and where are we to seek it?
We are to seek the very things God Himself plans for us: prosperity, peace and good…and those things are found in a city of exile. For the Jewish people, it was a specific city, Babylon, in which they were physically exiled.
But what about us? According to Philippians 3:20, where is our citizenship as believers? Yes! Our citizenship is in heaven! We are, for a season, “exiled” to earth and we live in earthly cities. Just as the Jewish people were to seek peace and prosperity in the city of their exile, we are to do the same! No matter what city we inhabit, we are to be involved in public affairs, doing what is necessary for peace and prosperity! Daniel, while in Babylonian captivity, became a trusted servant of the King of Babylon! Esther, a Jewish woman, became a Persian queen.
There is work for us to do, even though this is not our eternal home! That is why Jesus said, “Occupy till I come!”
Hang in there with us. Over the course of time we will look broadly, as we did today, at God’s principles; and at times, we will narrow down to specific “how to’s.” There are some simple, easy things we can do to get us out of the bleachers and on to the playing field! Stay tuned!
PS: This effort is more than simply reading about what we should do. It is about mobilizing believers to arise and join the wave of Christians who are suiting up and getting in the game. Please share this information with other people, and plan to take action. (Trust me…there are easy ways to do so!) Talk it up…motivate others to get in the game! Now is our time to shine!