We Should Work for the Good of Our Cities

As Christians, we should work for the good of cities. The idea appears sound. It appears that working for the good of the city is something we should definitely do.

But some Christians struggle with the idea. They would rather retreat from the city than work towards its good.

There are many objections we could explore but the one I want to tackle today is that this world is not our home. We belong to Jesus’ kingdom. As citizens of Jesus’ heavenly kingdom, we should work for its good but not the good of an earthly kingdom. Instead, we should distance ourselves from the world so that we are not tainted by the evil found therein. 

While some make the above argument, it is not biblical. Instead, the biblical view is that we should do all we can to work to bring about change in our cities now. 

Why should we work to bring about change in our cities? 

For the same reason Judah was supposed to work to bring about change in Babylon. As you read through the history of Israel, one thing becomes apparent — they were a rebellious people. Instead of worshipping the Lord, they worshipped other gods and relied on other nations to fight their battles instead of the Lord. As punishment for their unfaithfulness, God allowed His people to be conquered and exiled from the Promised Land. Israel was taken first by the Assyrians, then later Judah was taken by the Babylonians.

Right before the Babylonian exile, a number of false prophets told the people that they would come back to Jerusalem in just two short years, but that wasn’t God’s plan. In fact, Judah wasn’t coming back anytime soon. Instead they were going to stay in Babylon for 70 years (Jer. 29:10). 

While they would ultimately come back to the Promised Land, God didn’t want Judah to live as exiles. Instead he wanted them to take root. Jeremiah tells them in chapter 29 starting in verse 5:

Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf…” (Jer. 29:5-7a).

They were to take root — to have sons and daughters, to give them in marriage, and even to work for the good of the city. That might seem odd, but look at the rest of verse 7. It says, 

for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jer. 29:7b).

In other words, as the city prospers, they will prosper. As the city flourishes, they will flourish. That same idea applies to us. While our home is the kingdom to come, we live here now. 

Instead of living as strangers, as exiles, we are to take root. We aren’t to live on the fringes, we aren’t to pull back. Instead, we are to work for the good of our country, city, and community. We are to work for good because as the city prospers, we prosper. As the city flourishes, we flourish.

While we are here, we are to work to make things better. We are to show the world a sliver of the kingdom to come. As we do so, we will not only enjoy a better life, but we will act as witnesses of the kingdom for which we find our hope. Hopefully, others will find their hope in the kingdom to come too.


Watch the sermon from which this post was developed.

The Glory of the Lord and hope for sinners

The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped.” (Ex 34:6–8)

We are all seeking hope. We want to believe something good will come of our lives, the world in which we live, and the world we leave to our children and grandchildren. We hope the future holds the answer to our questions, and the fulfillment of promises we believe to be true about the world in which we live. However, the hope the world holds onto is unknown hope. In other words, we don’t know if it will happen, but we hope it will. 

In contrast to worldly hope, there is a hope that is known, that is sure and present. It is the hope the Lord provides. On the heels of the golden calf episode in Exodus, Moses asks the Lord to show him His glory. The Lord agrees. He tells Moses He will pass by him while proclaiming His name. As well as He agrees to show Moses His back but not His face, because no man can see the face of God and live. 

The name God uses in His discourse is LORD – Yahweh. He proclaims Himself to be a God of mercy, patience, steadfast love and faithfulness, forgiveness and justice. 

These attributes about God represent God’s glory. They show the greatness and weightiness of God. 

His attributes, His glory, comforts the sinner because forgiveness is possible, due His mercy, grace, slowness to anger, steadfast love and faithful. While God is a God of justice, He is also willing to forgive those who repent of their sin. We have time to repent because God is long suffering with us. The moment we transgress His commands, we deserve to be destroyed, but we are not. Instead we are allowed to continue living. God’s long suffering doesn’t mean God is a pushover. He will punish sin. He will continue to visit His wrath on mankind until they repent. Our God is a God of justice. But His justice is tempered by His love, grace, mercy, and long-suffering. God is not out to get you. He is not waiting for you to mess up so He can fire His wrath in your direction. He is a gracious and merciful God. A God in which we can place our hope. Hope because we know He will not change. What He promises will happen. 

If you are searching for hope, quit searching in the world. Turn to the God of the Bible, the Lord, Yahweh. In Him we find hope because in Him we find life. We find a relationship and provision. 

Revelation, a mystery and a certainty

“Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation  11:15)

Revelation is a mysterious book. At times, well most of the time, it is hard to understand. I like to refer to it as the final exam of the Bible because it pulls in imagery from all the books before. In order to understand Revelation, you need a good handle on the rest of the Bible. Reading Revelation in and of itself will be difficult if you have not read and do not have a good grasp on the meta narrative of Scripture. The overarching story of God’s Word that follows a trajectory from Creation to Restoration.

While Revelation may be difficult to understand, there are parts that are clear. Today’s text is one of those texts. We learn that Jesus’ kingdom will reign forever and ever. It will never cease. It will always be. We can count on it because the Creator of the universe promises it. The Creator of the universe we read about in Scripture. The One who has fulfilled countless promises throughout redemptive history.

Do you believe and trust that God will establish His eternal kingdom one day on this earth? Are you convinced that everything will be restored? That sin will be wiped away and we will live in the world in which we all hope? The book of Revelation is difficult in many ways, but it is clear that Jesus will return, His future kingdom will be established, and we will live in the world for which mankind longs, if you are a follower of Jesus.

Be ready to provide a defense of your hope in Jesus

“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” (1 Pe 3:15–16)

Our world is increasingly growing hostile to Christianity. I’m not talking about cultural or progressive Christianity, rather, I’m referring to gospel-centered evangelicals who stand firm on God’s Word. The world in which we live is growing more hostile each and every day towards our message and values. Instead of assimilating or disassociating from the culture around us, we should engage. 

Peter tells us that we should be ready to provide a defense to the hope we have in Christ. It is that hope that keeps us going and it is that hope we should be ready to share with others. But we must not share the hope of the gospel in combative harsh ways. Instead, we must be gentle in the way in which we share. As well as we must share with a good conscience. We are not out to attack or one-up someone. We are not out to be harsh and disrespectful to other human beings. Instead, we must be gentle and loving in the way in which we share. That doesn’t mean we shy away from sharing the truth. We must continue to share the truth because it is the truth that sets us free. It is the good news from ages past that is still good news today, so we must not and cannot alter the gospel message. Instead, we must share it with others so that they might experience the same hope we experience. 

One book that has been helpful for me lately is Sam Chan’s book Evangelism in a Skeptical World: How to Make the Unbelievable News about Jesus More Believable. He does an excellent job of walking you through how to share the gospel with others in today’s culture. If you are looking for a way to reach the world in which we live, give Chan’s book a read. 

The things of the world are rubbish when compared to Jesus.

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil3:8)

To know Christ is the greatest thing in the world. There is nothing better or more joyful than to have a relationship with Jesus. A saving relationship. One that redeems us from God’s wrath.

It is Jesus who makes us righteous. When we believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, His righteous life is credited to our account. As well as His payment of death redeems us from the demands of the law, which is death for our sin. The law can’t provide us righteousness because it demands what we can’t give — perfection. The law for us restrains and points. It restrains sin by providing guardrails in which we are to operate. It also points forward to the need for a Savior because we can’t save ourselves.

Paul knew the value of a relationship with Jesus, which is why he counted everything else as rubbish, as garbage, as not worthy of keeping. A relationship with Jesus is penultimate and the only relationship worth keeping and continuing to pursue.

The things of the world are rubbish when compared to Jesus. Chase after Jesus. Pursue Jesus. Count everything else you could gain as loss in comparison to Jesus.

Death is the great equalizer but there is hope

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Cor 15:20)

Death is the great equalizer. No matter how rich or poor all will face the same fate. We will all die one day. We cannot in and of ourselves escape the grip of death. It’s grasp is too strong for us to break.

There is one, however, who broke death’s grip. That person is Jesus. He died at the hands of the Romans on request of the Jews. Beaten to a bloody pulp, a crown of thorns pressed into His scalp, nailed to a cross, spear pierced His side once His last breath was breathed. Jesus was dead when He was removed from the cross.

Instead of being throne in the city dump, He was laid in the grave of a rich man. Even though a massive stone was rolled in front and guards were stationed at the tomb, Jesus walked out after three days. He defeated death.

Jesus’ victory provides hope. Not just hope for this life, but for the life to come. All those who believe in Jesus will be raised from the dead to eternal life. Death is not the end for Christians. Death is just the beginning of life in a perfect world ruled by a perfect King.

Jesus is the first fruits. He is the beginning. The first to be raised. Will you follow Him? Will you be among the fruit that is gathered into the Kingdom to Come?