Bringers of Peace (4)
“Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished.” Jeremiah 29.6
A spiritual core
Fulfilling our calling as the salt of the earth and the light of the world begins within, in the depths of our souls, where we keep our eyes steadfastly fixed on the promises of God; and in our practice of spiritual disciplines, as we bend our knees and hearts to seek Him in His Word and prayer, day by day.
Without a solid and secure spiritual core to their lives and communities, the exiles from Jerusalem would not have the stamina to endure the hardship they would know in Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon. Similarly, we will make no progress in knowing the blessings of God and being a blessing to the people in our Personal Mission Field, unless we devote ourselves daily and earnestly to strengthening our souls in the Lord.
The life of faith begins in the mind, in how you see and understand your world; and in the heart, in the kind of attitudes and affections you nurture there; and in your conscience, where you train your will to will what God wills. With your soul thus set like flint on the things of the Lord, the words and deeds that fill your Personal Mission Field each day will be more likely to bring the peace, joy, and knowledge of Jesus to your world.
A third command
With this foundation established for the exiles in Babylon, the Lord through Jeremiah gave a third command to His people. They must not allow their time in captivity to cause the numbers of the people of God to decline. Rather, they must work to build-up the community of God’s people through giving their sons and daughters in marriage and raising sons and daughters to know the promises of God, and to seek Him with their parents.
God’s command was clear: Israel must increasein captivity in Babylon, even as bad as conditions may have been in some places; they must not allow the ranks of the people of God to decline. Filling the earth with the sons and daughters of God has always been part of His people’s commission (Gen. 1.26-28). Living in captivity in Babylon was no excuse for not continuing to pursue their calling.
Here is yet another sound word of instruction for the Church in our secular and materialistic age. We must work hard to increasethe ranks of the followers of Jesus Christ; andncreasing the community of Christ’s disciples has two facets.
First, Christians must not follow the fashion of the times which depreciates marriage and child-rearing in favor of a life of getting and spending. God has called us to be fruitful and multiply in every age; no amount of economic opportunity or ambition must be allowed to get in the way of this most important mandate.
And the children we bring into this world, we must raise diligently, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We must eschew all that is merely frivolous and trivial in Christian education, and raise our children as citizens and ambassadors in the Kingdom of God, called to live for His glory as witnesses for Jesus Christ in every area of their lives. Even children have a Personal Mission Field, and it is the duty of parents and churches to teach them how to seek the Lord and His Kingdom in their designated spheres.
In addition, the Church today needs to rediscover the work of evangelism. We have become so used to thinking of the lost as “seekers,” and doing everything we can think of in our churches to attract them to us, that we have forgotten, or at least, minimized, the mandate to make disciples as we are going, in the everyday situations of our lives. The concept of Personal Mission Field is for most contemporary Christians terra incognita; however, for Jesus and Paul, it was just the normal Christian life, in which we are to live as witness to Christ for the glory of God in all things (Acts 1.8; 1 Cor. 10.31).
The world is not commanded to go to church; but the Church is commanded to go to the world, and this is a form of ministry that has fallen by the wayside in too many churches today. Every believer is called to seek the peace and edification of the people to whom God has sent him, and by this means, to build up the community of believers, so that it increases, and does not decrease.
Nationally, the percentage of the population claiming to be Christians is declining annually. Surely we can see that this is not the will of God for His churches! And we will not bring the peace and blessings of God to our nation if we continue decreasing in numbers of faithful believers, both those won to the Lord by our witness, and those raised to be witnesses by our teaching.
In our churches, therefore, let us work to promote Christian marriage, to raise and nurture strong families, and to equip all the members of the Body of Christ for the work of sharing Jesus and proclaiming His Kingdom to every person in our community.
For these are God’s means for multiplying followers of Jesus Christ, and bringing His blessings and peace to ourselves and our neighbors.
1. What does your church presently do to increase the community of God’s people?
2. Why is it reasonable to expect that, if we are faithful in working to build up the believing community, God will grant us a fruitful harvest?
3. What opportunities does your Personal Mission Field present for building-up the believing community?
Next steps – Conversation: Talk with a prayer partner or other Christian friend about how you can encourage and assist one another to be more faithful in your witness for Christ.
T. M. Moore
This week’s study, Bringers of Peace, is available in a free PDF download, suitable for individual or group use. Simply click here.
Our booklet, Joy to Your World!, can help you get into a more consistent groove as a joy-bringer to the people around you. It will help you identify, map, and begin working your Personal Mission with greater fruitfulness. Order your copy by clicking here. Order two copies, and work through it with a friend. For more insights to God’s purpose in sending His people into captivity in Babylon, see our Scriptorium study on the book of Isaiah (click here for all 23 installments in the series).
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.