‘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

I’ve been noticing that God places us in neighbourhoods for His redemptive purposes. A neighbourhood is where you live and have the opportunity to meet others.  It’s a community.

One day last year, I met a kind neighbour at the bus stop and after a lovely conversation, she said she was interested in getting back to God, so she came along to the youth Alpha. Last week, one of my housemates invited another neighbour from three doors down to have a meal with us. She happens to live in the same house as the first neighbour!

Another day, I met a neighbour whose first language is Hebrew, and as I’m learning this on Duolingo, we had an interesting chat about words and gender rules. He is now someone I can practice speaking Hebrew with. He has shared about his fascinating life, which also includes the story of his suffering and requiring kidney dialysis several times a week. I’m inspired by his lack of bitterness despite his cancer and the loss of one kidney due to a medical error.

For Christian believers, God’s redemptive purposes involve those desires we have for others in our community to know they are loved by God in Christ and can be set free from hopelessness and despair caused by sin in our world. We ourselves experienced this freedom of salvation in Christ when we first believed, and it is in community that we grow in our understanding of what happened, and we seek to share this joy with others.

There is mutual encouragement in sharing our love in Christ and it is Christ who sends us into our neighbourhoods to love others. Knowing this, we can live intentionally. Jesus gave us a new commandment in John 13:34-35 to love one another as He’d loved us and in this way everyone would know we were Christ’s disciples. Love and connection in our neighbourhoods is part of God’s purpose.

Just ordinary day-to-day life but lived on purpose where God has placed us. Where has God placed you? How could you live seeking shalom in your neighbourhood?