Does Jeremiah 29:11 Apply to You?
by Russell Moore
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
These words are the John 3:16 of American cultural Christianity. Watch how often they show up on the Bible verse plaques sold in Bible Belt mall kiosks or posted on Facebook walls, even on tattoos. Whether as home decor or on social media posts, I see this passage claimed fervently by people I know haven’t been in a church service since the first Bush Administration.
Naturally, this love for Jeremiah 29:11 has often led more theologically-oriented Christians to lament its out-of-context use. So much so that a young Christian recently asked me, “Does Jeremiah 29:11 apply to me, or not?”
My answer: Kind of.
Let me take that back. Yes, it does apply to you, but not in the way many “claim” the passage.
NOT A PROSPERITY GOSPEL PREACHER
Many understand the text to be about God’s favor on one’s life and plans. If I just have confidence and follow my heart, someone might think, God will bless me. That’s not the prophet Jeremiah; that’s Deepak Chopra. Anyone who could find that kind of moralistic therapeutic deism in the Book of Jeremiah hasn’t read anything in Jeremiah beyond or behind this verse…
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