In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26–28
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility . . . . Ephesians 2:13–14
The world is going to hell in a hand-basket; war, strife, immigration, racism, pollution, natural disaster. Maybe we should all flee to small town America where things are as they were, where things are as they should be — where we can live our faith and raise our kids in relative safety and security.
Sounds kinda nice, huh?
One problem, the gospel does not thrive as fully there as it does here, in the midst of all the brokeness that marks the urban areas of our world. Throughout the history of the church the Gospel has thrived as it has moved to the cities. The first 30 years of Christianity started with a bang, thousands were coming to faith in Jesus. From 12 fearful and faithful followers, the church grew to thousands. Then persecution came. Christians fled. The Gospel came to cities and within 200 years there were 20,000,000 Christians – 56% of the population of the Roman Empire claiming Jesus as their savior.
Rodney Stark, in his book, The Rise of Christianity writes:
Christianity revitalized life in Greco-Roman cities by providing new norms and new kinds of social relationship able to cope with many urgent urban problems. To cities filled with the homeless and the impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachments. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family. To cities torn by violent ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity. And to cities faced with epidemics, fires, and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective nursing services.
The gospel thrives in cities because it is in cities that hopelessness makes its home. As people marked by the Gospel, we are carriers of hope. It is as we move into the brokenness of the world that we shine the light Jesus, the beacon of Gospel hope, a theology as big as the city. As a church we may be in the suburbs, but we are in the shadows of the city. The opportunities abound to be the hands and feet of Jesus right here. And if we move fully into that call? Watch out and be amazed as God moves through us.
Peace, hope and love