For those of you who live in a city--an urban epicenter--you might understand me when I talk about falling in love with a city. Maybe you were a tourist who found a home in your favorite vacation spot. Perhaps you were a suburban or rural kid who'd always dreamed of living in the "big city". Whatever it was, there was something that lured you into the city life. For me, I think the fascination was of being a part of something bigger than myself. Cities are where life happens. There's diversity. There's change. There's growth. There's trend-setting. In short, there's life...life to the fullest, if you will.
For Christians, or even for the casual church-goer, there might be a connection of the idea, "life to the fullest," to the teachings of Jesus Christ. If you trust the account of his followers, we are told that Jesus said he would bring us life as it was meant to be. Life to it's fullest. Complete life. He promised--and delivered--this to the people who encountered him here on earth. And if you are a follower of His, maybe He's delivered on this promise to you as well.
Somewhere along the line, these two pieces, the city and Christ, have been completely disconnected. Today's Christians have missed the point. We have believed God's promises insofar as they apply to us. We have forgotten about living to the fullest. Half the Christians I know spend their lives trying to hide from the world instead of living boldly within it. The city scares them because it's where most of the sin lives (go figure...most of the people live there too).
The Jesus I know is not afraid of the city. He loves the city. One of the most poignant pictures I have seen in the Gospel is that of Jesus, standing above the city of Jerusalem, weeping and mourning for the people because they were so lost. So hurting. So confused by the world around them. So entirely like me...and like you.
If only we could develop the compassion of Christ. If only we could stand on a hill overlooking our nearest cities and see the needs instead of the depravity. Are we capable of seeing what Christ sees? Can we look through the facades to see the hurting? Can we catch a glimpse of the hearts God has created so that we can help reconcile those hearts with their Maker?
Instead of running. Instead of judging. Instead of ignoring.
I, for one, am interested in giving this a try. My blog has taken many shapes over the last year...mostly to keep me on track with whatever goal I need motivation to reach. This segment will be a bit different because I will be responding to a book in essay form. The book? A Heart for the City. The authors? Those who've given their lives to serving a city. Edited by John Fuder. Read along if you want. I look forward to your comments to challenge me along this journey.
Thanks for reading.