I live in parallel worlds, which is why I make my home in the city. I am revisiting this earlier post in order to lay the foundations and expand on my thinking regarding the city. Join me as we explore God’s plans and purposes within the city.
The city is a place of trouble, transformation, and triumph. It is the battleground between the purposes of God and the pride of humanity. Within the city, we can discover the story of redemption, and gain insight into God’s purposes as His glory radiates throughout the earth.
The city is a Holy Place, where the work of God is active and His presence known. If we are called to the city, and want to have a heart for the city, then we must come led by the Holy Spirit, and with the following demonstrations of His activity in our lives.
We have nothing to give to the city, and we have much to learn from the city. When we recognize this, we become fellow citizens, sharing in the life of the city. We value our neighbors, those who have already been living within the city, and seek their wisdom.
However, humility also requires us to speak when God tells us to speak. We must be committed servants, willing to boldly proclaim His message, as His ambassadors, under His direction. This requires us to humbles ourselves, seeking His face, so that we are able to distinguish the whispers of God’s voice from the screaming of our own self-righteousness.
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another,
for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. ~ 1 Peter 5:5b, ESV
Holiness isn’t defined by a set of legalistic guidelines that tell us how to act, or that we impose on others. Holiness belongs to God, and it is something that we receive from Him. To be holy means that we are set apart for God’s purposes in the city, that we are acting according to His purposes, and that we are trusting God to enact His purposes in and through the lives of others. None of us are worthy to be used by God, and none of us are so righteous that we can determine the worthiness of others.
To be set apart doesn’t mean that we refuse to share in the life of the community, it simply means that we acknowledge that God has a purpose for our lives within the community, and we are called to live according to that purpose. It is this sense of purpose that compels us to act differently within the community, even as we humbly acknowledge that God also has a purpose for others in our community. Our task is to simply help them connect with God as He leads them to discover their purpose.
In addition, holiness means that we take advantage of the grace of God in our own lives, a precious gift freely given to us. We will not allow anything to enslave us that will take away from our service on behalf of God. We will choose to grow in an understanding of His expectations on our lives, even as we extend God’s grace towards those that fail to meet our expectations.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore,
and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. ~ Galatians 5:1, ESV
To bring honor into the city means to seek the best for others; to give others credit for the things accomplished; to show enough respect for others to overlook their frailties, and to give all the honor to God for the work accomplished through your efforts. He is the One who called you, empowered you, and equipped you to do your work within the community.
Honor worships God, respects the dignity of others, and seeks the best for the life of the city. A life lived by honor does not seek to highlight its own accomplishments, as much as it seeks to recognize the accomplishments of others, and acknowledge their commitment to the life of the city (many times a steadfast commitment that existed before you even arrived in the city).
Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God.
Honor the emperor. ~ 2 Peter 2:17, ESV
A Heart for the City
A heart for the city doesn’t seek its own ends, but seeks security, wholeness, and hope for all citizens. Such a heart wants opportunities for others to increase. It wants to see families prosper, dreams fulfilled, and opportunities abound. It is a heart that prays for the peace (shalom) of the city. A heart for the city longs and prays for a community that is complete, whole, healthy, tranquil, prosperous and safe. It believes that these desires are promised by God, and will come to pass, as we work together in community.
A heart for the city believes in the impact of individual lives, and in the power of corporate commitment. It trusts and values the dreams of others, and seeks a way to fulfill a vision of prosperity through community. A heart for the city answers the call, because it believes strongly in the love for the city of the One who has called.
Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.
Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
~ Jeremiah 29:7, NIV