Archive for the ‘reach’ tag
Ever since my heart was captured by the Gospel of Luke and the companion volume called Acts, I have been convicted that God had a special heart for the city.
“Which city?” you might ask.
My answer, “Any city, but especially the big cities!”
Jesus’ ministry was focused on the key cities — Capernaum and Jerusalem especially — and the book of Acts revolves around key cities — Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, and Rome.
I recently received a message in my inbox that spoke so powerfully about this focus and something that has been on my heart lately. This message came in a regular email update called The Bronx Prayer Letter. In it, Jared Looney powerfully speaks about a love for the city, especially the people in the city. As I preach on Jesus’ call for us to be an “ALL” focused people today — something I will discuss more with you in my Heartlight.org article tomorrow — I can’t think of a more powerful way to demonstrate the love necessary to do this than Jared’s letter. Be blessed: but even more, be convicted. I have been!
Lying in bed last night, I kept thinking about the faces, the names, the situations, and dramas unfolding. It is easy to look at the city, calculate its toughness and spiritual despair, and decide that “it’s not for me.”
Like the rest of us, people in the Bronx are deeply flawed. While part of our society wrestles with the violent sins of neglect, places like the Bronx are flawed in more obvious ways. There is a rawness to life and to relationships, and life is desperate for many. For missionaries from the burbs, it is easy to appreciate the poor when they are new and their stories inspiring, when there is a certain admiration or intrigue,when we are entering an experience that stimulates our sense of adventure. That is, before the glit and glamour of urban messiness becomes actually… messy.
In theological discussions around the country, many are renewing conversations about Incarnational ministry. That is, the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us as a (or THE) model for ministry. However, I wonder if short term missions has sometimes skewed our view of this practical doctrine. For all the discussions of incarnational ministry, they are only discussions until the glamour rubs off and we’re sharing life with other (and perhaps differently) flawed people. When Jesus repeatedly sat at the table with “sinners and tax collectors” or called fishermen who thought of children as an annoyance, Jesus shared life with them — and at the same time he was life for them. He sought their transformation, and when necesary he released them to their choices. And I’m sure with a sensitivity to sin that shadows even the holiest of consciences, he journeyed with them as their friend.
Early in this journey, the Lord impressed upon me to love the city. I knew what that meant more & more over time. The city is the people, and I love the city.