Serving the City – Gospel in Life

Serving the City

Tim Keller |  April 17, 2016

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Jeremiah 29:1-14
RS 365-08

Sermon Summary

The Babylonian exile narrative in Jeremiah 29 offers a surprising directive from God to the Israelite exiles: to settle in Babylon, resist its values respectfully, and love the city sacrificially. This historical event challenges the exiles, primarily composed of Israel’s professional classes and leaders, to rethink their refusal to engage with Babylon. It triggers a broader reflection on how to faithfully interact with the surrounding culture, even when it seems contrary to one’s beliefs.

1. Make the city your home

God’s instruction to the Israelites in exile to make Babylon their home, despite its pagan nature, is a timeless message for Christians today. All Christians are considered exiles in this world, and God is using the rapid urbanization of cities to draw people closer to the gospel. However, there is a need for the church to stay abreast with this urban migration and for Christians to grasp God’s plan for these urban areas.

2. Don’t assimilate

Christians are called to inhabit earthly cities while representing the values of the heavenly kingdom, a task that requires a delicate balance of cultural engagement and spiritual integrity. The kingdom of God’s values, centered on sacrificial love and justice, contrast starkly with the world’s self-centered ethos. Despite the challenges, Christians are called to put others before self in all life aspects, mirroring God’s call to live out these values.

3. Seek peace and prosperity

God implores His followers to actively foster the welfare and prosperity of their community, regardless of its status as friend or foe. This divine calling, which may appear counterintuitive, involves a genuine love for the city and its inhabitants, and a commitment to their social, economic, spiritual, and psychological growth. Mirroring Jesus’ sacrificial love, Christians are encouraged to altruistically serve others, even those who rebuff them, thereby impacting their surroundings through non-forceful love and justice.



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