God’s Presence Everywhere (Jeremiah 29)
This should be no surprise, of course, because “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it” (Psalm 24:1). God’s presence is no longer to be found only in Jerusalem or Judah, but even in the enemy’s capital city. We can be a blessing wherever we are because God is with us wherever we are. There in the heart of Babylon, God’s people were called to work as in the presence of God. It is hard for us today to understand how shocking this would be to the exiles, who had thought up until then that God was fully present only in the temple in Jerusalem. Now they were told to live in God’s presence without the temple and far from Jerusalem.
The feeling of exile is familiar to many working Christians. We are used to finding God’s presence in church, among his followers. But in the workplace, working alongside both believers and nonbelievers, we may not expect to find God’s presence. This doesn’t mean that these institutions are necessarily unethical or hostile to Christians, but simply that they have agendas different from working in God’s presence. But God is present nonetheless, always looking to reveal himself to those who will recognize him there. Settle into the land: plant gardens and eat what they produce, work and take home your pay. God is there with you.
Even today many Christians cannot imagine that God is both near and far. As finite human beings limited to time and space, we think of God in terms of distance from us. It is difficult for many to believe that God is really near.