One of the most often misunderstood verses in the entire Bible is Jeremiah 29:11, which reads: “’For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope,’” (NASB). What people who often quote this passage usually mean by it is that God will prosper His people in all ages, simply because they are His people. What often goes unrecognized is the immediate context in which the passage is found.
In Jeremiah 29, the people of Israel had just been carried away into captivity in Babylon, and would remain in exile for several decades more. The fulfillment of this promise was to occur for another couple generations. In the meantime, the people were told:
“5Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. 6Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. 7Seek 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 have welfare,” (vv. 5-7; NASB).
In recent days in America, President Trump and the Republican Party in Washington D.C. have decided that one particular issue is of dire enough importance as to accept responsibility for at least a partial shut down of the United States government. Government shutdowns are not uncommon in the United States. Both Democrat-majority congresses and Republican-majority congresses have used the Power of the Purse to influence politics in Washington. What issue was of such importance as to require this extreme reaction on the part of Republicans? The building of a wall on the Southern border of the United States.
Now, there are several reasons why it is important for nations to protect their borders, and why this border in particular is of a unique significance. Many women and children traveling from Central American countries to seek freedom in America are abducted, malnourished, and even die before reaching the Southern border of the United States. Gangs and other undesirables often slip through among decent people and proceed to steal from ranchers, rape, kill, and sell drugs in the communities they travel through. There is also the very real threat of terrorism that looms large in most Western countries today. The question is whether all of these problems will necessarily be solved by the building of a wall.
Another question ought to weigh on the minds and hearts of thinking Christians in the West, especially considering the recent March for Life, the passage of the New York law allowing for the murder of the unborn up to the point of birth, and the recent push of a similar bill in the state of Virginia. Why is it that the Republican Party, having lost one house of congress to the opposition party, is so willing to employ this seldom necessary nuclear option to erect a wall on the Southern border, but were not willing to employ similar measures to overturn Roe v. Wade when they had secured all three branches of the federal government? In the face of the culture of death, American Christians residing as exiles in this strange land (1 Peter 1:1) should be think long and hard about the integrity of the party that claims to represent the culture of life. In these dark days, let us consider every civil means possible to “seek the welfare of the city” in which we have been called as exiles.