Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A City Yet to Come

Thankfully, when I drive to work, I don't have to take the interstate. I take side streets, passing Asian markets and Hispanic squares, across major highways, and past quiet neighborhoods. Almost every day, these lyrics by Sandra McCracken echo through my head:

Spirit heal our neighborhood
Until your Kingdom work is done
Teach us what is just and good
As we look for the City yet to come.
I grew up in a small town, and will always love the slow pace and integral community life I found there. As I live longer in a metropolis; however, I've come to feel a stronger calling to my neighbors in the city-- the immigrants, the business folk, the entreprenuers, the students, the artists and the blue-collar workers. I am surrounded every day by people who are seeking something bigger than themselves, and usually in American secular life that means money or power or sex, not the God revealed in Jesus Christ. So many empty cups, waiting to be filled. But how do we engage them, these people whom Christ calls us to love and yet who have such an antithetical worldview?

At the concert we attended on Saturday night, Sandra sang the song quoted above, speaking of its emergence from their love for the people in their small community in East Nashville. Heaven, she reminded us, is not always described as a wide open plain, but as the Great City.

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:2
Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer PCA in New York, has a recent article in Christianity Today titled "A New Kind of Urban Christian," which urges Christians to become involved in the life of the city by proclaiming mercy and justice to our neighbors. It has some good insights for authentic communities and city churches.

Another article by Keller, along the same lines of Christians and culture in the city, is Post-Everythings, which outlines some guidelines on how to reach the new generation of urbanites.

If you live in or near a city, or even if you don't, I ask you to read these articles and consider how your community, your church, your family can begin to live missionally among your neighbors. I know the Christianity Today article in particular has given me much to ponder today.

Oh, Lift up your head,
For the day is near
We have no abiding city here.
--Sandra McCracken

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