A Theological Vision: Renew Cities
Here is the last installment of the Theological Vision for the Church. You can find the 3 prior posts hereand here and here. It might be a good idea to read them all at once to get the full context. I’d love to get your feedback, if you have a minute or two to comment.
I believe as we multiply reconciled communities of restored people there is an enormous kingdom impact in the cities in which we reside.
A section of the book of Revelation talks about the healing of the nations.
Revelation 22:1-2 – “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”
I believe this idea of renewing cities is best articulated in the Old Testament book of Micah, chapter 6. In that verse we find a triad of, I will call them postures, that describes how this renewal takes place… Do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. Did you hear that? Do justly, love mercy. Those are active commands. It’s not enough simply to feel sympathetic about those who are being oppressed, but we must activate justice around us.
Spokane is a wonderful place… It is full of beauty, wonder, but it is also broken. Real people with real broken lives. Children that need leadership. On any given night, there are families that literally don’t have a place to sleep. There are marriages that are fractured, seemingly beyond repair. In our city, you can count thousands of people who have never encountered the love of God, through Christ Jesus. They have never had the privilege of realizing that there is love in heaven with their name on it.
So how will they? What is Gods plan? His plan is to use you, us, the body of Christ, as we reweave our lives back into the lives of the people of our city.
Tim Keller described it best when he wrote, “To do justice means to go places where the fabric of shalom has broken down, where the weaker members of society are falling through the fabric, and to repair it. This happens when we concentrate on and meet the needs of the poor. How can we do that? The only way to reweave and strengthen the fabric is by weaving yourself into it…human beings are like those threads thrown together onto a table. If we keep our money, time, power to ourselves, for ourselves, instead of sending them out into our neighbors’ lives…we are not interwoven socially, relationally, financially and emotionally. Reweaving shalom means to sacrificially thread, lace and press your time, goods, power and resources into the lives and needs of others.”
My dream is that we would be a community that imagines what could be, catalyzes action into the brokenness and participates with the larger body of Christ to create kingdom movements. Even in our own community we have people who are working earnestly with organizations like Youth for Christ, Young Life, Cup of Cool Water, Christ Kitchen, World Relief, and Global Neighborhood.
If I were King, the first thing I’d do would be for each person of our community to engage himself or herself in some ministry of justice or missional activity in our city. The second thing would be if they weren’t committed to some action like that, would be that they would be imagining how God would want to use them to bring healing to our neighborhood, city, nation and even the world.
Before I end this I must emphasize the most important part is this all happens as we make Jesus known. We must loop back to Scripture and notice the agency in which this reconciliation happens. Note what Paul writes in Colossians 1:19-20a – “For in him (Christ) all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him (Christ) to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace (shalom) by the blood of his cross…” It is through his life, his death and resurrection that reconciliation can take place in our midst.
God has a hope of reconciliation for each of us. He also has a hope of reconciliation for our community. Beyond that, He has a hope of reconciliation for our city and cities around the world. The hope of reconciliation is through a right relationship with him (Restored Lives), with each other (Reconciled People) and with the world (Reproduce Communities and Renew Cities) through Jesus Christ. May God give us the courage and empowerment to live into that with all of who we are.
Lord Jesus, may your Kingdom come, may your will be done in us and our city as it is in heaven.