"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." (Jer 29.7, ESV)
So far, we've looked at the welfare (= "Shalom": peace, wholeness) and seek (= discerning the needs around us) aspects of God's command to His people through Jeremiah. This month, we will understand what He meant by "sent".
Who is the greatest missionary that ever lived? Take a moment from reading this and come up with your own answer.
Was it William Carey, with his great work in India and his translation of the Bible into Bengali, Sanskrit and many other languages and dialects? Or perhaps Hudson Taylor? He spent 51 years in China, and his labours resulted in 800 Christians arriving in that country, starting 125 schools, directly resulting in 18,000 turning to Jesus! Or could it be Jackie Pullinger? Or David Livingstone? Gladys Aylward? Not forgetting the Apostle Paul of course!
Might I suggest... Jesus? He reminds us no less than 39 times(*) that He was a missionary sent from heaven to minister among us here on earth. His calling here on earth was to fulfil the mission God had placed before Him - to live a life that worships the Father above all things, to engage with the culture(s) around Him, demonstrating God's love for humanity despite our sin, and proved that by laying down His life in our place so that we don't have to. And in His resurrection and ascension to the Father's side, He secured our hope for eternity through victory over sin and death, sealing that within those of us who accept His Lordship by His Holy Spirit. He came with a mission. He fulfilled it. And He's passed that same legacy on to you and me. We've a job to do.
Remember that verse from our first Touchpaper on this subject? About how when we read in John's gospel (20:21) that Jesus saying "Peace be with you" meant "Shalom" and all its intended meaning? Read on. Jesus took it to the next step: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (John 20:21, ESV) Jesus, the Sent One, is now the Sender. God the Father had reminded His people in exile in Babylon that they were not somewhere alien by accident, nor by evil man's doing, but by HIS design. And then, 600 years later, Jesus the Son reminded His people exactly the same thing. And here, 2000 years on yet again, our great God still says this same thing to you and me: "You are not where you are by chance nor by man's choice, but by design. I have a job for you. Seek the welfare of the people around you, that they might be saved and I might be glorified." Let's get to work!
(*if you want proof, I can email you the list of verses! Also found in Mark Driscoll's Vintage Church, p20)