Week of Monday, February 22 ­– Sunday, February 28
Boomerang Blessing – Man as a Chaplain

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 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 29:4-7

The pandemic has made it easy to give in to the temptation to withdraw ourselves from the world. Without anyone questioning, we can choose to isolate and insulate ourselves and our families from the craziness around us. So, when culture or politics take a wrong turn, it’s really tough to stay actively engaged. The danger is that we can “social distance” ourselves right out of being a positive salt and light influence as the Lord Jesus commanded (see Matt. 5:13-14).

Jeremiah wrote to people in exile in Babylon who were dealing with a similar temptation to isolate, insulate, and withdraw. They were there against their will in a foreign land with pagan people with a strange language and strange customs. They probably had no interest in connecting and engaging the culture around them. They just wanted to keep to themselves and wait it out with the hopes that soon they could return to their homeland. In fact, false prophets had indicated their time in exile would be brief. Yet Jeremiah delivered God’s message that it would be 70 long years before their return.

Obviously, it was never their plan to end up in Babylon. It was God’s plan. God had sovereignly orchestrated their displacement from their homeland as judgment for their persistent sin. He speaks of Babylon as the “city where I have sent you” (v. 7). Yet in this pagan foreign land, God was calling them to plant gardens. Build homes. Get married. Have children. Plant their lives.

But He didn’t stop there. God wanted something more. He literally commanded that they seek the shalom of that pagan place. That Hebrew word is often translated “peace,” but it means so much more. Here it is translated “welfare,” but it also means harmony, wholeness, completeness, and prosperity. So, God not only wanted them to seek their own welfare, but also the good of the city where he had placed them. Plus, He wanted them to pray for their new neighbors in their adopted homeland. Then God gives the reason: “for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (v. 7). It was a kind of “boomerang blessing.” God is saying: What you do for them will come back to you. To the degree that you pursue and pray for the peace of Babylon is the degree you will enjoy it yourselves.

God calls us to do the same. Followers of Christ have a dual citizenship. While we are obviously citizens here in America, the Bible teaches that our ultimate citizenship is in heaven (see Philippians 3:20). It would be all too easy to simply insulate and isolate in a “holy huddle” and wait for the Lord’s return, serving only as a Chaplain in our homes. Far too many Christian men do that, and that’s one of the reasons we have the mess we have in America. Guys, we need to serve as Chaplains in the midst of our broken culture and communities in obedience to the Lord’s call to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.” Just consider that any place you go, there is at least one person there who needs comfort, solace, or a word of encouragement. More importantly, someone needs to hear about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Jimi Hendrix, the iconic guitarist of the 60’s, died as a result of an overdose of alcohol and barbiturates in 1970 in London just days after his final public appearance at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. That night, Hendrix was reported to have asked the audience if anyone could “Share Jesus with me?” No one did and he died tragically two days later at age 27. Was there not at least one man there who could have responded to the request? Apparently not. Maybe the end would have been different for Jimi if some man had come forward and shared the love and story of Christ with this desperate man.
For the sake of our families and our future, we must actively engage, pursue, and pray for the wellbeing of America and the people God puts in our path. If we will do that intentionally, compassionately, and faithfully, we have the hope of enjoying God’s promise of a “boomerang blessing.”

  • In what ways have you insulated and isolated yourself and your family from the culture and community and “distanced” yourself from the nation around you that may be self-serving instead of God-honoring in light of the call to be salt and light?
  • What are some specific ways you can actively seek the welfare and wellbeing of your community and country? What will be hard for you about that? What does God promise you as you do?
  • Thank God that He has placed you in your specific location for a specific reason. Ask Him to show you ways that you might pursue and pray for the good of the place where you have been planted. Ask Him for the courage and strength to be a positive influence and blessing, that you might participate in that blessing.