“Stay in the City”

originally published 2/3/11

For years, many Christians have forgotten about the city; I hear people talk about cities as if cities are totally forsaken by God; places where sin and corruption abound and way beyond redemption. I have heard many, still today, who take some quotes out of context and preach that we must all leave the city. With millions of people who need Jesus in the cities, they want to leave the city?  My question is: Who is going to reach these people?  On the other hand, If we go to the mountains, who are we going to reach there? The deer population, the squirrels, the trees?

Some people have even asked, Does God love the City?  The answer is YOU BET He does. God does not love the city because the city is lovable, humble, loving, and kind.  God loves the city because it is inhabited by a sea of humanity, called people, many people, and God is crazy in love with the people He created.  God is not in love with buildings and skylines, though He is the one who gave creativity and vision to those who designed these magnificent structures. God is in love with the people who live and work in each one of those lit windows that you see on the tall skyscrapers and tall city buildings. God loves people and the city is overcrowded with people.

The Bible is filled with awesome stories of ministry in the cities: Joseph in Egypt, Daniel in Babylon, Esther in Susa, Timothy in Ephesus. If you notice the majority of these stories are about young people ministering in cities.  Most of Paul’s ministry was done in cities.  The ministry of Jesus took place in the urban areas of Palestine. God loves cities, in fact, the history of human civilization began in a garden but will see it climax in a City, the New Jerusalem.

“On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” (Acts 1:4)

Interesting advise from Jesus, do not leave the city till you have received the Holy Spirit. Stay right in the city, don’t go anywhere. Stay tuned. My question: What were the disciples to do after they received the Holy Spirit? Where were they supposed to do after receiving the power of the Holy Spirit?

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Jesus commanded His disciples to not leave the city, to wait to receive power from the Holy Spirit. Once they had received the Holy Spirit, He did not tell them to get out of the city, but to testify about Him, in the city, and in all the other cities, towns, and villages all over the world. That’s exactly what they did. That’s what Paul did. The name of Jesus and Christianity did not grow and become known all over because the disciples fled the city.  The Gospel of Jesus was spread through the entire known world because the disciples of Jesus, used by the Holy Spirit, travelled through all the cities they knew talking about the Master.

Don’t live the City till you get the Holy Spirit. Once you get it, reach your city for God, and once you are done doing that, go to another city. When our work is done in the city and it is time to leave, God will let us know. But this is not the time to leave, this is the time to stay, and to work for God’s City.

Prayer: Thank you for loving people, thank you for your concern and love for each city, town, and village of this earth. Help me to not be afraid, of this challenging mission, to reach my city for you. Give me the power of the Holy Spirit, so I can be your witness in New York, its suburbs, and anywhere else you need me. AMEN.