By Matt Friend with Michelle Thompson
You love your city, your town, your community. It’s not perfect, but no city is.
You have your favorite grocery store, pet store, gas station, radio station, coffee shop, and barber shop. But the questions niggle at your mind and won’t go away: How can I make my city a better place? How can I be a giver instead of a taker? How can I build into my city with love?
Here are three ways to show love to your city.
#1 – Live there for a long time
Today’s culture urges us to “keep moving!” The feeling of inadequacy haunts us during the day, and the temptation for a better job, a better family, and a better neighborhood keeps us up at night. We’ve been conditioned to always look for what’s next.
Craig Bartholomew writes, “In our late-modern age we have lost that very human sense of place amidst the time-space compression characteristic of ‘postmodernity’ and globalization. Place has become something that one moves through, preferably at great speed, and virtual reality is no re-placement.”
My friend Jeremy Linneman sheds light on our ever-increasing attraction to upward mobility, “And what has mobility cost us but stability? We’ve lost our sense of pride in the ordinary things of life, of loving our family and friends, and of being devoted to one another.”
Thousands of years ago, the prophet Jeremiah told the Israeli captives in Babylon…
Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. (Jeremiah 29:5-6)
Do job transfers happen? Sure. Does life sometimes require a move to a different city? Absolutely. However, one of the greatest ways we can love our city is by planning to settle in and live life over a long period of time.
Instead of defining success as escaping your current city in search of a better life, choose to stay and be part of the change. “Those who have the opportunity to leave and yet remain in their home community, to live and lead, will prove to be the community’s most successful leaders.” (Gordon & Perkins in Making Neighborhoods Whole).Instead of defining success as escaping your current city in search of a better life, choose to stay and be part of the change. Click To Tweet
#2 – Work hard for its peace and prosperity
In the context of building houses, settling down, planting gardens, and raising families, Jeremiah continues…
Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. (Jeremiah 29:7)
God invites us to work hard for our city’s welfare and success; for its holistic health and wholeness; for its well-being and flourishing.
With your unique talents and opportunities, how can you specifically contribute to your city’s physical, mental, cultural, social, and economic wellness?
One of the best things you can offer your city is to be a hard-working neighbor. Be an example as you get up and go to work each day, as you mow your lawn, wash your car, and play in the yard with your kids.
Robert Lupton says, “Buy homes, join the Neighborhood Association, help organize a crime watch, build relationships with neighborhood kids, offer support to single moms, take seniors to the grocery store” (Renewing the City).
Jesus’ heart shined through in His famous Sermon on the Mount…
One of the best things you can offer your city is to be a hard-working neighbor. Be an example as you get up and go to work each day, as you mow your lawn, wash your car, and play in the yard with your kids. Click To Tweet
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
#3 – Pray hard for its peace and prosperity
After urging His people to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile,” God finally exhorts them…
Pray to the Lord for it. (Jeremiah 29:7)
In the Bible, working hard and praying hard go hand in hand.
What burdens you about your city? Pray about it. Pray for your city’s mayor, first responders, judges, soup kitchens, pregnancy outreach centers, child protective services, women’s shelters, drug recovery programs, counseling centers, schools, coaches, and teachers.
Understanding God’s love for your city, and His desire that you pray for it, may turn your morning commute into a prayer pilgrimage.What burdens you about your city? Pray about it. Click To Tweet
Our Ultimate Hope
Staying, working, and praying for our city is never the final destination.
The story of history culminates in the last two chapters of the Bible (Revelation 21-22). One day, hopefully sooner than later, God will make all things news: a renewed heaven and a renewed earth…
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:1-5)
This is why Jesus came. This is why Jesus died and arose again. This is why Jesus is coming again.
Trust in God. He wants to do for you, your hometown, and the entire universe what He did for Jesus on Easter morning.
Matt Friend, a Charleston native and tenth generation West Virginian, graduated from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has served in pastoral ministry since 2002 and at Bible Center Church since March 1, 2016 (as our sixth Lead Pastor). He and Sarah (his high school sweetheart) are raising two teenage daughters, Katie and Riley, and a son, Kadyn. Together, they are advocates for adoption and all things West Virginia. In his free time, he enjoys reading, camping, hiking, kayaking, golfing, and spending time with his family and two dogs, Queso and Wasabi.
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