When the people spoken to by the prophet Jeremiah were taken off in exile it would have been easy for them to have two attitudes.
To wait for their salvation from the land. To focus purely on their return to Israel. To view it, the land they were exiled to, and the people that surrounded them, as foreign, irredeemable.
To set themself up in ghettos, fortresses, to make it clear to those around them that they would have nothing to do with them. To make it clear that the people whose land they were in were not going to be a part of their story. Their culture was not going to be something they embraced.
Perhaps God saw this happening with the exiles. Maybe this is why He instructed the prophet Jeremiah to say this in chapter 29, “5 “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. 6 Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! 7 And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”
They were to find hope for their present life, for their family, while in exile. While holy citizens in a foreign land. Did God say to them the foreigners were holy? No. But does he indicate they should marry, plant, be a part of their community? A resounding yes.
And so if we are going to use the exile analogy for us today, and the church in a culture which is foreign, perhaps we need to review the biblical analogy from an Old Testament time. Perhaps the answer for the church is not to retreat. Nor put all our hope for today in a coming salvation. Instead. To be a part of our culture. To plant, to have homes, to marry, to have hope in the One who is with us now, and has allowed us to be where we are for a reason.
Perhaps waiting only for a future salvation of this world might lead us to neglect the salvation of this world today.