God loves community. In fact, He operates in it through what we call the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit. In Jeremiah 29 we read about God’s people who are in exile (living someplace they would rather not be) and God is not going to call them out of exile anytime soon so He tells them to, “Bloom where they are planted.”
What He actually tells them is in verse 5, “Build houses, live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; takes 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.”
We should all be able to relate. What I mean is often we are not where we want to be or the circumstance is not what we wish it was but God would tell us, “Make the best of it.” If the neighborhood prospers we prosper, if the community prospers we prosper, if our church prospers we prosper, blah, blah, blah.
How do we apply all of this? I’m glad you asked. We are to pray for those who give us a hard time (Matthew 5:44). We are to have an optimistic outlook (Philippians 4:8). We are to be concerned not just about ourselves but others as well (Philippians 2:4).
So go ahead, plant a garden and give some of the produce to that bad neighbor or co-worker, seek the welfare of the community God has placed you. He told me to tell you that.
Ken Ansell currently serves as a pastor and local missionary in small, rural Texas community. He plays lots of tennis and fly fishes when he can. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org