In Psalm 102:14 it says, “For your people love every stone in her walls and cherish even the dust in her streets.”
Do you love your city?
I just returned from a whirlwind trip through Europe seeing some of the most amazing places in the world. You doubt me? I was in Nice and Cannes, France. I was in London and Cambridge. I visited the amazing cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and the historic Utrecht. There are many other beautiful cities, but those listed above are at least on the list.
The thing that I realized though was, I love my city. If you don’t know already, I kind of travel for a living. Each time I am gone I am more resolved as I return home that, at least for now, I am called primarily to a mid-sized city on the eastern side of Washington state, in the U.S. Spokane. It is not THE most beautiful city in the world, but it does have it's allure (the picture to the left is of the riverfront park downtown at dusk). I do love it. To many, my city is like a modern day Nazareth. You know the part of the Bible; “What good can come from Nazareth?” To many of my internationally savvy friends the thought of being in Spokane seems beyond the pale. Way to insular…limited. It’s too mono-cultural, it’s too small, and it’s at the “end of the road.” You will actually hear people, kind of tongue in cheek, refer to my city as, “Spo-Vegas” or “Spo-Compton.” I’ve actually used those caricatures before myself. However, I do occasionally get defensive as well. I suppose the old adage applies, “I can talk about my __________, but don’t ever let me hear you do it.” As the proverb goes: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I guess that is where I am. I see all of the above listed shortcomings, but there is obviously something more than the raw observation. I think it has something to do with calling.
I am not sure that everyone has this feeling for his or her city, but if we hope to do mission, we must love the city where we live. It needs to be sort of a love affair (ok, love/hate maybe). We must not look beyond it. Ask God for a deep, enduring affection for the pains, the laments, the laughter, the joys…the people of your city. That really is the genesis of authentic mission. Falling in love.
By the way, the Messiah came from Nazareth. Bam!