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. (Jeremiah 29:7)
Israel had been exiled to Babylon, and they were looking for when they could return home. "Prophets" were telling them it wouldn't be long. But God's prophet, Jeremiah, told them that it would be seventy years before they would come back to Jerusalem. Instead, they were to settle into the place where they were, grow their families, and be a contribution to the city.
It's another way of talking about being a light in the darkness, of being a witness of God's glory to a people who do not know him. In fact, that was always meant to be God's people's mission in the world. They were to reflect God's glory. But because of their disobedience, they would execute that mission in a foreign land instead of in their own home. You might say their disobedience made them de facto missionaries.
But we can learn from them because we are, as Peter says, "elect exiles" (1 Peter 1:1). That is, we are not yet home with Jesus in the new heavens and the new earth. Like the ancient Israelites, we are called to be a light in the darkness, a witness to the glory of God in the city to which he has sent us. We are to seek its welfare for the glory of God.
And of course the city is the people. How many around us wander about in darkness, trapped in their own sin, and in need of the good news of Jesus? Let your hearts break for them. And share the good news of Jesus with them.
Who are you praying for today?