Today’s post is part of an ongoing discussion about what followers of Jesus Christ can do to help transform our urban centers. I am by no means an expert but want to help facilitate the conversations and begin to tap into the collective hearts and minds of my readers and those serving in this vital area of ministry.
What are Cities famous for today?
1. Cities have diversity.
Ray Bakke says, “Yesterday, cities were in the nations: today all the nations are in the cities.”
2. Cities have a wealth of assets.
The city has a wealth of talented people, businesses that come from a broad and diverse background. Imagine being able to organize and tap into all that potential and focus it on transforming the cities in which we live, breath, and have our livelihoods.
3. Cities also have their share of problems.
a. Corruption in government
I will let you insert your own experiences with dealing with city government and some law enforcement officers. I want to emphasize some police officers. I have run across many more dedicated servants than bad ones.
b. Gang Activity.
“In the metropolitan Chicago area, about 100,000 young people are involved in gangs. The largest is the Latin Disciples with about 10,000 members. There are about 120 different gangs in the Chicago area.”
c. Drug addiction
This problem is tied to the one listed above. Gangs make their living by engaging in the business of selling drugs. These young people have developed a very lucrative drug trafficking business. Here is the reality. In Chicago, my context, it is possible for young kids, ten to sixteen years old to make $800 to $1,000 a week just being a spotter for drug dealers. I remember driving to a meeting at a church in Chicago, and I was talking to a co-worker on the phone as I am passing by a drug deal going down on the streets right in front of me.
We all know the ugly realities and the potential of the city. What could they become? Here is a look from Scripture of what God imagined.
So, what should our cities and communities look like? (Zechariah 8; Isaiah 61)
“Thus, says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.”Zechariah 8:4-5
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;” Isaiah 61:1
The background of the passage in Isaiah is the “Year of Jubilee” described in Leviticus 25:7ff. Every seven years, the Jews were to observe a “sabbatical year” and allow the land to rest. After seven sabbaticals or forty-nine years, they were to celebrate the fiftieth year as the “Year of Jubilee.” During that year, all debts were canceled, all land was returned to the original owners, the slaves were freed, and everybody was given a fresh new beginning. This was the Lord’s way of balancing the economy and keeping the rich from exploiting the poor.
Imagine giving everyone in the city a reset. What would your life look like if every seven years you could reset? Your past wiped out and you get a fresh start. As Christians, we get a constant reset.
“But God, being compassionate, kept forgiving their sins, kept avoiding destruction; he took back his anger so many times, wouldn’t stir up all his wrath!”Psalm 78:38
“But don’t remember the sins of my youth or my wrongdoing. Remember me only according to your faithful love for the sake of your goodness,” Lord. Psalm 25:7
I will leave with this challenging question until next week’s blog post. As believers and churches, how could you engage your city and community in a fresh way? And if you interact differently what new ministries are you creating and old ones you are redefining? I would love for you to share that in the comment section for all readers to benefit and share ideas.
If you like this share it. Let’s help this conversation go viral. Let’s love the cities back to God.
Locke, Heart for the City, 437.
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