The Gospel for the City
Originally posted on 10/22/2010 at sosmemphis.org.
I live in the heart of Memphis, TN, one of America’s many broken cities. But I love my city, and I want to express that love in tangible ways – serving the poor, fighting for justice, standing against oppression, beautifying neighborhoods. I’m pretty sure that a look at the Bible’s story in its entirety makes it clear that we should love our city in these tangible ways. Let me explain.
Many Christians have a small view of the gospel. We limit the gospel to the fact that Jesus came to the world to save sinners. While that is definitely true, that’s not the whole story. When you take a look at the Bible in its entirety, you quickly see that the problem of sin has effects that extend far beyond individual “rule-breaking”. The problem of sin has created chaos all around us. Poverty, injustice, racism, violence, crime, oppression, hunger, inadequate housing, broken families, littered streets are all effects of sin. The incredible good news of the gospel is that Jesus did come to redeem sinners like you and me, but he also came to reverse the effects that sin has on the world. Think about what Paul says in Romans 8:
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of god.
The truth is that through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus God is creating a new city where there will be no pain, suffering, injustice, poverty, leaky roofs, or hunger. Revelation 21 describes this glorious city in which, “He [God] will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4). The story of the Bible is that God put the first man and woman in paradise. They ruined it because of their disobedience. That sin has literally wreaked havoc on the world, but God is reversing that mess and creating a new paradise – a city where His people will glorify God enjoy Him forever.
So love your city in tangible ways that point to the truth of this glorious gospel. Proclaim the gospel in both word and deed.