Surveying the present troubles, you worry for the future of your country. Everything is scandalous. Everyone is either lying or all worked up about telling the truth. Wars and rumors of wars assail you in the notifications on your phone and the emails in your inbox. Each time you turn on the news there is some new accusation of bad faith being leveled.
“So much death. What can men do against such reckless hate?” You find yourself echoing King Theoden.
“Ride out with me,” comes the reply from Aragorn. “Ride out and meet them.”
But suppose with me the possibility that while sometimes the answer is to ride out in literal battle against evil armies of orcs, or their human equivalent, other times the most correct response takes a very different form.
Cynicism about “the American dream” noted and put aside for the time-being, we should consider what our response would be were God himself to tell us that the answer to our present troubles in America was building a nice house, planting a pleasant garden, taking a pretty wife, having lots of children with her, and raising those children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
Then when those children come of age, you give them away in marriage too so they will have children of their own – being fruitful and multiplying, filling the Earth and subduing it. You know. All that jazz.
But what if every step of the way you busy yourself with your house, garden, wife, children, marriage plans, and grandbabies, you are praying for and seeking the welfare of the city to which the Lord your God has brought you in your exile because in its welfare you will find your own?
For my part, I believe this is the takeaway from Jeremiah 29:1-23. Whatever happens in the coming weeks, months, years, or decades, there is a long and rich Biblical tradition of God’s people loving and honoring God in their cultural and societal context by starting with the faithful, diligent, optimistic, and cheerful administration of their own home.
And what might we find in a few generations if this is our tact? Nothing less than God having brought the much-needed and prayed-for revival, and it having begun with us.
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