Redeemer Presbyterian Church Sermons
Christians need to be devoted to cities. Cities have a disproportionate impact on the wider culture. The population of cities around the world is exploding, and Christians need to be wherever people are. Christians can effectively reach cities through proclaiming the Gospel, through acts of mercy and justice, and through living in such a way that embodies racial reconciliation.
Additional scriptural references made in this sermon are: Genesis 12:1-3; Jeremiah 29:4-7; Acts 4:32-34; Acts 6:15; Acts 7:60.
How does a Christian live as a believer in an unbelieving world? God calls His people to be spiritually bi-cultural. God does not want His people to either assimilate or segregate. He wants them to become part of the city, to pray for the city and seek its peace and prosperity. Yet, God also insists that His people retain their distinctiveness and not compromise their allegiance to Him. Christians are called to love the city of man for the sake of the city of God.
Additional scriptural references made in this sermon are: Jeremiah 28-29; Daniel 3; Hebrews 11:10.
What did the fall do to humanity? By tracing the descendants of Cain and by studying the city they created, we see the violence and oppression that resulted from turning away from God—including the Bible’s first instance of polygamy. However, we also see that God has not given up on humanity. God has a vision for a different kind of city—a city built on worship and grace instead of self-aggrandizement and power.
Additional scriptural references made in this sermon are: Jeremiah 29:7; Jonah 4:11; Revelation 21:2; Matthew 5:14-16; 1 Peter 2:12; Matthew 18:21-22; Luke 9:58; Mark 15:34.
Many recoil at the thought of being called to reside in a large city. Jonah felt the same way when God asked him to go to Nineveh, and he made every attempt and excuse to avoid the great city. Like Jonah, we may see crime, pollution, greed, and moral decay as deterrents to living in a city; but in God's eyes its peoples are precious, and his grace and mercy are available to all. Once we glimpse the heavenly eternal city, the city of God, we will share God’s view of the lost and will be able reach out in charity and love to a broken world.
Isaiah tells a tale of two cities: the strong city and the lofty city. The former is divine, available through salvation, and based on peace and joy. The latter is human, self-created, and based on pride and accomplishment. Christians are called to seek the peace and prosperity of the city, both in prayer and as servants of society, looking forward to the final and eternal heavenly city where the trials of this world will cease.
The term Christian was first applied to a group of ethnically and racially diverse believers in Antioch, the capital of Syria. They were drawn together by the gospel and witnessed the power of God’s love in the midst of urban strife and problems. Across cities of the world, as in New York City, strong spiritual bonds flourish between Christian faith and large urban areas. It’s a combination that shatters cultural barriers, and causes conversions, the transformation of lives, personal depth, charity, and social action. God has a heart for the city, do you?
As Christians in the 21st century, we are called to obey God’s laws, because they are tools for understanding and expose the workings of our heart. Once we realize that we are saved by grace alone and accepted by God, we can respond to God in genuine obedience with transformed hearts. As members of a local Christian community, we become an alternate city within a city, a holy nation, representing Christ and serving the community in which we worship and live.
Jeremiah told the Jewish exiles in Babylon to seek the peace and prosperity of the city they found themselves in. Like New York, it was an enormous, intimidating city with diverse populations that espoused a variety of values and morals. However, God empowers Christians to relate and respond in love to all people, without either assimilating too much to the culture around us or separating ourselves through tribalism. As citizens of both the city of man and the city of God, we work on the principles of peace and grace for the betterment of all.