How do we work for the good of the city?

In my last post, I argued that we should work for the good of our cities. Our work is important and we should be motivated to work for the good of our cities since our welfare is tied up with the welfare of the city. In other words, as the city prospers, we will prosper. Not only will we prosper, but the gospel will have a more peaceful platform from which to launch. If we want to see our cities reached with the gospel and changed for good, we should work for the good of our cities. (Learn more from my last post here .)

You may be “amening” me at this point. You’re ready to jump on board. But you might be wondering, “how do I work for the good of the city? What are some practical actions I can take?” I’m glad you asked.

At the outset, let me say that we aren’t to work to bring about good with violence. Violence never accomplishes that which we believe it will accomplish. Instead, we are to work for the good of our cities in other ways. Here are three ways you can work for the good of your city.

(1) Participating in Politics and Law making.

Before you completely write this option off, hear me out. I’ll start with a quote because I believe it sets up the idea well.

“True justice exists only in the society of God, and this will be truly fulfilled only after the Judgment. Nevertheless, while no society on earth can fully express this justice, the one that is more influenced by Christians and Christian teaching will more perfectly reflect a just society. For this reason, Christians have a duty toward government.”

 Robert E. Webber in Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner’s, City of Man, 27.

I like what this guy has to say. It is reasonable and balanced. He knows politics aren’t going to solve all our problems. But he also knows that societies that are influenced by Christians are those that operate better than those that aren’t.

That’s because, as this same author goes on to argue:

“Laws express moral beliefs and judgments…They tells citizens what our society ought to value and condemn, what is worthy of our respect and what we should disapprove of.”

 Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner, City of Man, 31.

Think about the state of Colorado: Marijuana is now legal. That is a big deal. Not only because its citizens readily have access to drugs, but also because it influences Coloradans morality. Right now, some citizens may see the use of Marijuana as being morally wrong, but think about how people will see it in fifty years. As a generation comes and goes the view that it is wrong to use marijuana is going to fade into the background. Laws express moral beliefs and judgments, they tell us what we should and shouldn’t approve of.

While politics and law is not for everyone, Christians can’t neglect its importance. It’s one way we can work for the good of the city as we live in the in-between.

(2) Truly Living as Disciples of Jesus

A friend of mine asked me in the past:

“What if the world actually saw Christians living out their calling?”

The reason he asked that is because a lot of people who claim to be Christian don’t live out their calling. While they might attend church on Sunday, the rest of the week they go about their business as usual. They don’t operate out of a Christian worldview, allowing it to drive and influence their everyday lives.

But imagine if we did? Imagine the impact we could have if we truly lived out our Christian convictions in every area of life? One author presses into this idea saying,

“It is therefore the church’s duty to display in an evil age of self-seeking, pride, and animosity the life and fellowship of the Kingdom of God and of the Age to Come.”

George Eldon Ladd, A theology of the New Testament, 113.

In other words, we are to live in a way that shows what it will be like to live in the new kingdom. We are to be witnesses to the change Jesus can bring about as we live in the every day. If we do, we will have considerable influence in the community.

Another way we can bring about change is actually living distinctly Christian lives.

(3) Preaching the Gospel

I left this one for last because I believe it’s the most important and that which we should ultimately be working towards. While changing laws and policies can bring about positive change in a society, they don’t deal with the core problem, which is the heart. When the Bible refers to the heart, it refers to our inner-self — our will, wants, and desires. It is what drives us. Naturally, we are sinful people. While laws and policies can restrain sin, it can’t cure it. Only the gospel can cure a sin sick heart.

When someone believes Jesus is their Lord and Savior, they experience a change in heart. Their desires, will, and wants should change. Instead of desiring sin, they should desire God. That desire should continually grow.

It is that desire that led David in Psalm 51:10 to pray,

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Ps 51:10)

Without his heart first being changed to desire the things of God, he would not have ever prayed that prayer. Nor would he have ever seen any life change.

If we truly want to make an impact on the cities in which we live, we need to preach the gospel. Telling others of the hope of Jesus. As they believe, their hearts will change, which should ultimately have an impact on the community as they live out their daily lives as disciples of Jesus.

Watch the sermon from which this post is developed.

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