Weekly Encouragement: What Makes Up a City of God?
“That we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:12
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Our Lenten Series, City of God, concluded last week. Each of our guest preachers gave us new perceptions about what the City of God might look like. Each of our guest preachers gave us new challenges about what we might do to bring our city closer to becoming a City of God. Here are some of the new perspectives and challenges that I’ve come away with.
No human city can be in its entirety a City of God. But every city can work to foster pockets of human activities and interactions which draw upon the best of our human and divine conceptions of living and working together.
No one individual, no one organization, no one group―be it of faith, race, gender identity, or any other―can define the City of God’s practices for other individuals, organizations, or groups. But it may be that in the very act of working together across such groupings that we discover more about ourselves, more about each other, and more about how better to live together.
We may tend to think of a city as the physical dimensions of its buildings and streets, or in terms of the political and corporate organizations that define its locality. But the City of God needs to be considered primarily as a city of souls, in all of its spiritual dimensions. This is not to say that the configurations of our city’s physical and organizational structures do not affect, for good or ill, the spiritual aspirations of its people; they do. The spiritual and the physical always need to be considered, and worked upon, together.
We cannot expect to see the City of God in our lifetimes. But concerted efforts by concerned people may bring us into something that looks more and more like a City of God. Recall how Jesus said, in both Mark’s and Luke’s gospels, that “the kingdom of God has come near.” Never does Jesus say that the kingdom of God is here. We can live with the hope that the City of God, if not here, is near.
As the word ‘cosmopolitan’ describes a person who identifies as a citizen of the world, maybe we can begin to think of ourselves as ‘theopolitans’―as people who consciously identify ourselves as citizens of the City of God. As theopolitans, we can focus our activities upon becoming active participants in the making of a City of God, right here in Richmond.
What perceptions do you have about what the City of God might look like? What challenges do you feel called to work on to bring our city closer to becoming a City of God? Share those perceptions. Take up those challenges. May we all, working together, experience a greater sense of godly citizenship in our city and help bring it ever closer to becoming a true City of God.
The Rev. Bill Queen