Jesus hasn’t left our cities
“… But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” Romans 5:20b
Have you ever noticed how big cities tend to attract nuts and kooks of every persuasion? From corrupt, profiteering elected leadership to the biased, one-sided media, quick to judge and destroy, to the wacko fringe groups demanding that their immorality be accepted without question. It’s a weirdly, almost other-worldly, structured system that appears, from the outside, as a massive herd of blind-folded goats running aggressively toward the edge of a cliff. Other-worldly because they really aren’t blind-folded but they cant see what they’re doing. Logic, morality, common sense, personal ethics and integrity, all evade them. Their race is to the lowest common denominator, first one there wins. And winning means they get their way.
The great city of Ephesus, written about extensively in the New Testament, was one of these cities. They had great economic and cultural influence in the known world being a significant port city, and, oddly, the city was also the headquarters of demented religious sect, the members of which had totally infiltrated the city with tentacles in government, commerce – everything.
Along with the craziness, though, an interesting undercurrent was happening, the city had one of the strongest Christian movements in the region. The Apostle Paul made Ephesus his home-base for a few years, rented a room, and started training Christians with the Word of Christ, equipping them to live contrary to the immorality all around them. And the faith flourished – which the establishment hated.
The City of Ephesus is an example of one of the amazing truths of the Christian faith, which is how God consistently infiltrates evil strongholds with a remnant of believers who are able to stand firm in the face of opposition. It is uncanny. Whenever you see a major city that appears to have been taken over by unwitting pawns of Satan, making ludicrous and immoral decisions and laws, look a little deeper. There is hope. God has a remnant there.
Armed only with the love of God and the word of His grace, there are Christians in that city praying, faithfully spread the message of hope in the midst of oppressive despair. We see it happening in our generation in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East and right here in our American cities. There is no fanfare for these brothers and sisters, even though they are hero’s of the faith. No ticker-tape parades. Only ridicule, mockery and oppression. Be strong, dear ones, our Lord predicted these times and will see you through each day. As was the case in Ephesus, God has planted you and other followers of Christ in Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, New York, Washington DC, Moscow, Beijing, everywhere!
You are armed with the same love, equipped with the same message – that God loves people and He wants to make them whole and well through faith in Jesus Christ. In the same way He planted Paul in Ephesus, He has planted you and your church in a community where Jesus is leading you by the hand and walking in your midst. Let grace abound through you.