For many of us, Hong Kong is a stressful place. It’s not just the normally high pressures of work, schooling, and caring for family, it’s the added anxiety of the rapidly changing political landscape and concerns for the future. In these times, we can be so focussed on our circumstances that we can lose sight of God’s role for us here.
When the Israelites were exiled to Babylon, God sent them a letter. They were in a strange land under an oppressive regime, they were uncertain of their future, and they longed for life how it used to be. But God said to them, “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jer. 29:7).
God was telling the Israelites, rather than making it their goal to leave, destroy, exploit, or even overly acclimatize to Babylon, they were to seek the good of the city. Seeking it the prosperity of Babylon meant working for both its material and spiritual flourishing. They were to show (as Daniel did) what it looked like to serve the God of the universe.
God’s words to them back then are instructive to us today, because we’re also exiles (1 Peter 1:1, 17; 2:11). To be an exile means living in one country, even though you’re a citizen of another country. You’re not a tourist, because you stay for a long time. Nor are you an immigrant, because don’t assimilate and take up the same habits and priorities of the locals.
If you’re a Christian, this is not your home. We put our hopes in another country, a better country, our heavenly country (Phil. 3:20). And yet, we still work for the good of this place.
Practically speaking, seeking the good of our city means submitting to and praying for its authorities, even when we disagree with them (1 Pet. 2:13-14, 17, Rom. 13:1-17). It means living different lives, so that the people around you can see where your real allegiances are (1 Pet. 2:11-12).
Maybe you’re overcome with worry for HK and it’s affecting how you relate to people. Focus your hope on our heavenly city, and you’ll see it frees you to love those around you. Maybe you’re making plans to leave HK and go elsewhere. Remember, wherever you are, you’re a citizen of heaven. Serve the King.