Our City

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So a few of us walked through Birmingham City Centre on Wednesday and prayed for the city. We were ready for any rioting that might’ve occurred. But the city remained calm and little violence broke out that evening. And tonight, the city remains steady but alert.

As we walked through the city, I was struck with just how broken things are. Not just the shop windows and the storefronts. But at how broken society is. Political systems, social systems, education systems – they all seem to be fighting against one another. And family units, social units, support units, also warring against each other. In the midst of all this brokenness, my heart and spirit were convicted.

Where is the church?
Where is our church?
Where is the message of salvation that brings good news?
Where are the songs of praise declaring the goodness of our God?

It’s no coincidence that our theme this is year is Love Beyond: Our God, Our Church, Our City.
And my heart was drawn to our verse:

1 Chronicles 16:23-24
Sing to the LORD, all the earth;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

It was as if the whole city was crying out for God, and yet the words fall on the deaf ears of the church. And God himself calls us, his body, to be his ambassadors.

Friends, I am convicted that now, more than ever, we need to be making a change. We need to be making a stand for Him.
It is time to move. Not away from this city. Not away from broken lives. But to move towards them. To move in faith.
To move in faith of the one who saves.

Please spend some time reading through 1 Chronicles 16 and reflect on the reality of that passage for our city.
And pray.

 

 

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photo credit to witek

One Response to "Our City"
  1. Anastasia says:

    Something I wrote a few days ago to reflect. No idea if it’s helpful or not.

    So there have been looting and rioting in the country.

    At first I hadn’t a clue of how I should respond: clearly the majority of our gut reactions are to condemn and vilify the mindless individuals who have taken part or even instigated the chaos. That visceral reaction is completely justifiable and understandable, but it just did not sit quite right. What is the Christian response?

    What would Jesus do? I honestly don’t know, and so I don’t find it a particularly helpful question to ask. The one guiding principal I do know however is ‘the law of love’, to love your enemies, to love your neighbour as yourself, but, how exactly are we to show love to these people? How does that work? Do we go and confront them in the streets and show them the errors of their ways and what they should do instead for a better future? Do we simply go and forgive them and leave them to their unrepentant ways? Do we shift the blame towards the government and say it’s their fault for the country’s social unrest? That somehow sat even more uncomfortably with me, with an overwhelming sense of impracticality and ineffectuality for change. How! How are we to show God’s radical and powerful love in this situation to bring about repentance and reconciliation and ultimately peace?

    Standing from the outside I find it very difficult to understand or empathise with the masses. In fact I would say it is nigh on impossible for us to accurately determine the purpose or reason for their actions; the initial spark may well have been genuine anger at what some perceive (possibly erroneously) as police injustice, but the copy-cat riots that have spread from and continued in London have no political message, they appear to be purely using the original spark as an excuse to cause criminal vandalism and to burglarise for personal gain. The fact that the vast majority of participants are youths and it was entirely pre-mediated through social networking seems to validate that. If that is the case, there appears to be no excuse. There is no overall purpose. There is no reason. Is it simply human nature to look for opportunities to revel in anarchy or do they genuinely have an over-riding discontent? I don’t know, I guess it depends on your outlook on humanity. What is clear though is that we as a race are capable of the most senseless acts and the only hope for humanity is in Jesus.

    I’m now at place where I feel I can respond to these events with wisdom (and so be at peace with my response), it’s a first step. It seems to me that it all springs from fundamental social problems that has permeated throughout British society and I’m sure we’ve all seen the effects – the hooded youth looking for a fight, the drunken youngsters, the underage mothers etc. Though background does not excuse unacceptable behaviour, it does provide a framework for us to understand it. These underprivileged youths (and I’m sure we’ve all known some personally at some point), who are often forgotten by society and the government (ASBOs, anti-hoody initiatives….really?!) and come from broken families with no motivation or expectation of life, who do not learn necessary values either from school and often leave without prospects or a hope for the future, it is understandable that these would be the ones. They are now simply using the precedence set in Tottenham to mask their desire to channel their anger, discontent and plain boredom to causing havoc and being noticed. Just as they don’t realise the stories and damage they do to the people they are looting from, we don’t know them. At all. We don’t know their history, their present or their aspirations – who are we to judge?!

    Clearly what they have done is wrong, but instead of punishing and coming down hard on the symptoms of the disease (alone), we should absolutely work at the root causes of the problems; the socio-economic imbalance of the country. Is that not also injustice? I personally feel the main area of concern is the modern breakdown of the family unit – it embodies all the values that are now lacking with today’s youth. How do we do that? I don’t know, but it must be from the love of Christ, no government initiative can fix an inward problem. The immediate action of course is to support the police and pray for peace and order again, but arguably the longer term is more important in tackling our broken society and we must do it in order such that the lessons of this ugly episode can be learnt and a constructive purpose be revived from the ashes of the destruction. We must love and reach out to those who are vulnerable right here, right next door. Pray for them, talk to them, offer them sanctuary, bring them to God, show them that there is a hope, that there is a better way! Simply taking something away and saying this is bad is useless, people will only be impowered for change if they can be offered a better way.

    Clearly that is the hard part because it’s the part given us, where we have the responsibility, where we can no longer sit in our ivory towers and judge those who are darkened and lost. It requires commitment and dedication, love and mercy, humility and obedience, all of which we do not have within ourselves, we MUST be on our knees before God Almighty if we are to have a chance of moving on to a brighter tomorrow…and then maybe be able to turn our attentions to other, greater causes outside of these borders. Like maybe the Cape of Africa.

    An interesting article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14463452

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