I. The Beginning of the Broken City
II. The Bible’s Storyline of the City
III. The Builder of the True City
IV. The Best Way to Seek the City
Happy Reformation Sunday to all of you. As the MC said, being part of the theological tradition which springs from the Reformation is something very dear and important to our church. It’s not only our heritage but its values are engrained into our identity as a people who see ourselves as existing for God’s glory, who are saved and formed by Jesus who has then called us to be on mission for our city, San Diego. Those are actually our three core values and those same values, God’s glory, Jesus saving work and mission for people were at the very heart of what the Reformation was all about.
One other interesting thing which happened during the time of the Reformation is what some have called “the turning of the pulpit.” You see, prior to the Reformation the sermon portion of a worship service had diminished. Things had become more about ritual and spiritual transactions than a focus on hearing the preaching of the Gospel from God’s Word.
So in the ways churches were designed in their architecture, you didn’t have a pulpit front and center. It was like this little balcony off to the side and the pastor would stand up in it and speak with his back to the people. He would read the Bible in Latin and his homily would normally last only 5-10 minutes or so.
One of the big things that came out of the Reformation was the focus on the Word of God. So pulpits were brought back to front and center. Martin Luther translated the Bible into the language of the people, so people could understand what was being said. And sermons once again became a central and focal point of the worship service.
Perhaps you’ve wondered why sermons at The Resolved are rigorous with the Bible and are for an extended period of time… well, one of the reasons is because of The Reformation. So with that, let’s get our Reformed-ness on and get into our sermon time.
Today is the final sermon of our Genesis sermon series. I honestly feel a little nostalgic about it. We started almost exactly a year and six weeks ago and when we started it felt like a huge undertaking…fifty chapters, going after the first book of Bible and also because there are so many big, foundational things that happen,which really set the course for the entire biblical story!
Genesis was a big deal. But we did it! We read and heard and learned some incredible things and we’ve so much has happened among us in our church in this last year. We’ve seen people become Christians and get baptized, tons of babies born, couples get married and we moved into this phenomenal building that we built together. It’s been a big year for us. And through it all, God’s Word has been the thing leading us and guiding us.
What we’ve got for today in our last Genesis sermon is basically seeing how Genesis, the first book of the Bible which means beginning… points to the last book of the Bible, Revelation, in what happens at the end, the end of this epoch or age in the course of human history. What we’ve been doing in these three final sermons is stepping back and focusing on the big themes, consistent threads and overarching purposes which run through the entire book.
Two weeks ago we walked through Genesis in seeing how the Creator God is the divine and eternal hero of the book and how Jesus is that God.
Last week we walked through Genesis in seeing how the men and women of the book were all failures but where they failed Jesus succeeded as the true and better human.
This week we’ll trace how Genesis’ call for a garden city of God fails but is yet promised to God’s people and fulfilled by Jesus who builds it for us.
So my sermon today is titled, “The Great One Who Is Building The City To Come.” With that let’s go ahead and read just a couple key text to ground this sermon in God’s Word and then we’ll work through this. I’ll read them, declare them as God’s Word and then we can thank Him for it.
“God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over (it)… The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, through the middle of the street of the city; also on either side of the river, the tree of life.”
- Genesis 1:28; 2:15; Revelation 22:1-2
• Read TEXT
• Pastoral Declaration: This is the Word of the Lord.
• Congregational Response: Thanks Be To God.
• Pastoral Prayer
Alright so four things we’re going to go through today, “The Beginning of the Broken City, The Bible’s Storyline of the City, The Builder of the True City and The Best Way to Seek the City.”
I. THE BEGINNING OF THE BROKEN CITY
Cities. We here live in the city of San Diego. It’s the best city. I did the research and investigated it thoroughly...and we win. San Diego is the best city. :)
We’ll talk more about San Diego later. There are 478 incorporated cities in California, nearly 20,000 in our country and about 250,000 in the entire world.
Cities are places of power and politics. They are places where people gather, learn, create and recreate. Every person either lives in a city or in a place outside a city. People love cities and people hate cities. Cities can be either places of life or places of death. Cities can be small or they can be big. Wars are fought over cities and human history actually follows the plot line of cities.
Today cities are more important than ever. According to the United Nations five and half million people move into cities across the world every month. In the 1800’s only 3% of the world’s population lived in cities. In the year 2000, 50% of people lived in cities and estimates are that by the year 2050 75% of people will live in cities. Cities are important.
There are megacities, metacities and global cities. Whether the talk is of economics, politics, health care, art or sports…the talk is about what is happening in cities. There’s no way of escaping it. Cities are extremely significant.
But to understand the true significance of the city we have understand the beginning of the city…where cities come from. And in the Bible, the story of cities actually begins at creation, in the book of Genesis, in it’s very first chapters.
So let’s pull up those two verses from Genesis I read a minute ago and talk about them together.
Genesis 1:28 “God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over (it).”
Genesis 2:15 “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”
If you’re like me and you grew up at least tacitly having some kind of knowledge of the story of the Bible beginning a garden then the general idea you get is it was just man and woman, together, naked, in this paradise…and that’s how it was meant to be until everything went wrong. As John Milton said in his famous work, paradise was lost.
But the truth is God did not create the garden of Eden full and complete and intend it to be a paradise where Adam and Eve simply enjoyed unending bliss forever and ever. No, there was a plan and there was work to do.
From Genesis 1:28 the call is clear. The man and the woman are meant to “multiply.” That means have children. So they are to increase the population of Eden. And not just by a little. Look it says they are to “fill the earth” with children.
And they are not just to populate the earth but are to work with the earth, learning how to use it’s elements…which the following verses say included animals, water and trees. They are to “subdue it” and have “dominion” over it. There’s not just a combative element to that but also a creative element.
Human beings are created in God’s image and just as God created the heavens and the earth out of the chaos man is commissioned to create a dwelling place from the raw materials given to him from God.
Genesis 2:15 continues in this train of thought where Adam is told to “work it and to keep it.” There was a lot of work to do in populating and building a city and then to keep or protect it. It’s so easy to pass over these words and miss that this is architectural and engineering language being used.
Meredith Kline’s a dead Hebrew and Old Testament scholar guy who in my opinion perhaps does a better job working with the language and themes of Genesis than anyone I’ve ever read. Concerning these verses in Genesis, here’s what he has to say,
“The couple in the garden was to multiply, so providing the citizens of the city. Their cultivation of earth’s resources as they extended their control over their territorial environment would produce the physical architecture of the city. And the authority of the family engaged in (this) process would constitute the centralized government, under God. The cultural mandate given at creation was thus a mandate to build the city and through the blessing of God on man’s faithfulness the construction of the city would be completed.”
So you see, the city is actually God’s idea and is part of His plan for mankind. But Adam fails to fulfill this calling from God. What happens in the story in part has to do with Adam rejecting and maligning God’s plan for the trees…what ones would be used for what and how Adam would honor God as the king of the Eden city. And thus the vision for the garden city of Eden becomes lost. Lost but not destroyed.
We’ll talk about the rest of the story in Genesis and in throughout the Bible but before we do I just want to stop and ask if you’ve ever really considered the calling of God and connection to a city? Because you see that calling to make and have a family and to contribute to the creation of a city still stands for us today… it’s a universal calling.
Even when things don’t go right, God reminded His people at a time when they were in exile of the importance of this calling.
Jeremiah 29:5-7 “5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”
You see getting a house, having a family and committing to a city is a good thing. Notice there in verse 7 where God says He “sent” them to the city. Do you have a sense in which God has sent you to a city? Hopefully it’s San Diego but if it’s not it should be some place.
I hear about so many people all the time who are moving here or there and making plans this way or that way depending on this job offer or this job opportunity or because of the weather or because of this or that…and if I get an opportunity I always ask, “Do you think God is calling you there? And if so, will you stay there and commit to that place?”
In the book of James in the New Testament it says this,
James 4:13-15 “13 Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring… 15 Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”
What is the Lord’s will on where He would have you live? If you haven't settled yet have you asked that?
You see the story of the city begins in Genesis and the story of our lives will have to do with the story of the city we live in.
Well, let’s move on and see where Genesis takes this in our next point, “The Bible’s Storyline of the City.”
II. THE BIBLE'S STORYLINE OF THE CITY
This is the story of cities after the garden. Right after Adam and Eve are kicked out of the garden their son, their son Cain after murdering his brother builds a city but the curse of his bloodshed gets passed on to it.
Several generations go by and wickedness increases to the point that God floods the earth and guess what the next event after that is? The city of Babel, which becomes great in numbers, ingenuity and power but also very becomes very prideful since like Adam, they reject God as the ruler over their city.
Then comes along Abraham. When he meets God he’s living in a city called Ur, with a wife but no kids and God comes to him and promises him numerous children, nation and a promised land, if he will leave Ur to follow God and believe in His promise.
From Abraham onward, this promise… the promise of land and people becomes a driving principle to the end of the book for Abraham’s entire family. And what we need to understand about Genesis and this promised land and promised people it was the promise from God of a city.
The book of Hebrews in the Bible makes this clear for us. Here’s what it says,
Hebrews 11:8-10 “8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.”
See that? Abraham was looking forward “to the city that has foundation, whose designer and builder is God.”
Abraham leaves the city of Ur seeking this city. He comes to the city of Sodom and Gomorrah, but that’s not it. Sodom and Gomorrah get smoked.
Isaac his son tries to get in good with the kings of the other cities in the land but the family is not big enough yet to build a city.
Jacob, Isaac’s son has to leave the land where they’re to build this city because he cheats and steals from his brother. Then finally, years later when he’s back there living in the land, he has to leave it again because there’s a famine and Egypt is the only place with food.
He dies there and then the book of Genesis ends with Joseph, his son, telling his brothers “God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob” where they area to build the city.
Really, the whole book of Genesis is wrapped up with theme of the city of God populated by the people of God in the land of God. But it never happens before the book ends. Instead the book ends in hope of the city, looking forward toward it.
So that’s Genesis… after Genesis comes the book of Exodus, where during the period of 400 years God’s family, His people multiply greatly. But they’re populating a city in Egypt which is not their own, ruled by an ungodly king. So God delivers them out of Egypt, but after they leave, they end up homeless, city-less for forty years so that God could teach them His law and the importance of obedience.
Finally, led by Joshua they take down the city of Jericho and move into the land where Joshua sets up several cities, which he designates as “cities of refuge” where people can come find grace for their sins. But none of these cities ever really take off because they are constantly having to war with the neighboring countries to protect these cities.
Then comes along David, the man after God’s own heart and David ends up building the most famous city in the Bible, the city of Jerusalem. And for awhile Jerusalem, in part begins to be somewhat of a reflection of a Godly city where God is worshipped and revered… that is until David blows it by spying on this naked girl taking a bath, hooking up with her and then having her husband killed.
After him, his son Solomon’s actually able to grow the city in its population, prestige and power… but like his dad, Solomon too has a pension for the ladies. The Bible says he hooked up with 1000 of them (700 wives and 300 concubines - 1 Kings 11:3). That doesn’t make God too happy so after Solomon the city never is really able to recover.
There’s like another 21 kings who come after Solomon but things just deteriorate and deteriorate and it gets so bad God finally says enough and sends the Babylonians to destroy the city Jerusalem and carry off God’s people into exile as prisoners.
After about 150 years God raises up a guy named Nehemiah who finally gets to go back to the old site of Jerusalem and when he sees the city destroyed he weeps… and then he starts to rebuild the city beginning with its wall meant to protect and keep it…and that wraps the story of city and the Old Testament.
When Jesus comes on the scene about 400 years later… Jerusalem is once again flourishing city but it’s become a cold city. The rules and regulations of God are in place but the heart of God and His love are absent.
Jesus spends most of all His time teaching and preaching in the towns and cities across Israel, largely avoiding Jerusalem, this special city of God. When He finally does enter it He ends up being crucified.
Three days later Jesus rises from the dead and just forty days after He rose He gives His disciples these special instructions to spread the message of who He was and what He did and He says to start in the city of Jerusalem and then to spread out to the cities of Judea, Samaria and then to the ends of the earth.
The book of Acts in the Bible basically records His disciples doing just that, going to various cities, many of the famous ancient cities of the world like Athens and Ephesus and pretty much every city where they heard the message and responded by putting their faith in Jesus and becoming Christians, churches were set up there. The book ends kind of like Genesis, in hope of a city… but somewhat different, it ends with Paul hoping he’ll get to go to the great city of Rome and share the Gospel there.
Then guess what? After Acts, the majority of all the rest of the books in the Bible are written to these churches named after cities: Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae, and Thessalonica.
Lastly comes the last book of the Bible and you won’t believe it but basically the book chronicles the events of an evil city and then ends with this picture of a new city, a true and better Jerusalem, with God at the center.
It’s actually kind of crazy… because in a way you can almost look at the entire storyline of the Bible as one having to do with a city, the call for a city, the pursuit of a city, the failure of cities and the hope of a better city.
There’s this need and desire for a city, a great city. But no man and no group of people can seem to create it no matter how hard they try.
Do you guys feel this? Part of people always moving around from this place to that place is people seeking the perfect city. But the problem is that people live in cities, in every city and there’s a problem with people deep down, so no matter where you go it’s not going to be as great as you expected or were looking for.
And this is why Jesus came, to deal with heart of the problem… to deal with the thing that actually corrupts people who corrupt cities.
So let’s shift gears and talk about Jesus and His role in all this as “The Builder of the True City.”
III. THE BUILDER OF THE TRUE CITY
We’ve seen the call to build cities and we’ve seen the city focus of the Bible. Now, in order to see the connection with Jesus and the city we’ve got to understand what makes a city a city and what inhibits cities from being what they’re supposed to be. If you take what we’ve worked through so far, you can kind of boil the essence of a city down to three things: people, production and praise.
The call we saw from Genesis is to build families. The more and more families you have living in one place makes a city. So cities in their most basic sense are places of population where you have all different types of people living in a central place. With this density and diversity cities are then meant to be places of safety and feeling safe is meant to flow from relationships of love and trust.
But because of the fall in the garden sin effects the city and twists its intended safety. It gets turned into the need for protection from harm from now deadly animals and deadly people. So instead of being societies of love, due to sin cities get turned into places that provide political and police protection from criminals and attacks from other countries and cities get broken.
The call we saw from Genesis is to reap the benefits of the earth and to create with it. Thus, cities are meant to be mining centers where all kinds of things are produced and developed… from music and the arts to all kinds of craftsmanship and technological advance… it’s all part of harvesting the riches of creation to build a culture filled city.
When you’re put together with diverse population of people it pushes you. You find people like you and unlike you and in that you find mutual support, new ideas, other talent and collaboration to make something great, a great city.
But because of the fall in the garden sin effects the city and twists the way we’re meant to work together. Ungodly ambition, competition, theft, racism, classism, pride, abuse of power, over work and exhaustion all end up becoming features of our cities and thus they fail to fulfill their potential and become broken cities.
The call from Genesis was for God to be worshipped in the city, with Him as the king and man as His princely representative. As father God performed the first marriage and as friend He walked in the cool of the garden. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil beckoned love and trust and obedience to God and the voice of God beckoned the response of praise from His principle creatures.
But because of the fall in the garden sin effects the city and twists the worship of the city. Praise still takes place but it gets redirected away from God. No matter where you go or what time period you go to you find ceremonial activity in cities. Whether its sports, theatre, parades or actual places of worship there’s a religious type of action that takes place in the city.
Cities are meant to be built to operate under God and to honor God but instead they get built in honor of some type of “god” they pay homage to.
In their extremely helpful little book, “Why Cities Matter” Stephen Um & Justin Buzzard say,
“Cities are centers of worship because they are filled to the brim with worshipers - people giving their lives away to realities they believe will fulfill them.”
Thus rather than being places of spiritual worship to God cities become places of spiritual unrest and tend to become hotbeds for all kinds of religions, cults and twisted idolatry.
So cities are meant to be places with people, production and praise but due to sin which infects the hearts of every human being these purposes of cities gets distorted and corrupted which are the very things that cause so much sorrow and suffering.
Now hear what God does. In order to save and rescue the city, God has His Son leave His heavenly place, the heavenly city in order to come to the cities of earth to deal with the root which causes the brokenness of the city… the human heart.
Have any of you checked out and watched the new TV series, “Gotham”? If you haven’t heard about it, it’s a show based on the city of Gotham when Bruce Wayne is still a kid. And if you don’t know who Bruce Wayne is, I’ll tell ya… he’s Batman.
I’ve watched a couple of episodes and the most interesting thing to me about them is the way they talk about the city. There’s this personification of the city as though it were a living being. So they’ll have say things about the city being sick and the city hurting… and the show is basically about the bad guys in the city and the good guys who try to stop them.
It makes for a good show, but what Gotham misses is that it’s not the city that’s sick… cities are amoral, they’re not good or bad. The city isn’t sick, it’s the people in it and it’s not just some people, it’s all people, it’s everyone. And that’s what Jesus, the true and better Batman comes to do…to deal with the sickness of the human heart.
He does this by dying on the cross for sin and then for those who entrust their lives to Him He gives them a new heart, which loves God. The results are it gives you a love for people, all kinds of people. It gives you a new reason and passion to produce, you then work for the glory of God. And it turns your heart into one of worship and obedience towards God.
So what Jesus really does for people is that He makes them fit for the city. By Jesus going to the heart of the problem, the heart, He makes it so changes us into people who can exist together, who can produce together and who can praise together in the city.
Listen to what Jesus says in John 14,
John 14:1-3 “1 Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Maybe you’ve wondered what Jesus has been doing all this time ever since He rose from the dead and then returned to heaven. He tells us here in John 14…He’s building the city to come, getting it ready for the people whose hearts He changes so that they can live in the city.
In the last book of the Bible we get to see a picture of this great city He’s working on and what it will be like when He brings it to us. Check it out with me. God gives John this vision and here’s what he says…
Revelation 21:1-4 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’”
No more tears or pain anymore. No longer any threat of death. Complete safety and security. God dwelling with man! Then check this out…
Revelation 22:1-5 “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, through the middle of the street of the city; also on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”
Does this sound vaguely familiar? A river and a tree? With fruit? It sounds kind of like a garden. But wait, it’s a city...with streets… and God the king is at the center of it.
Revelation 22 is the very last chapter of the entire Bible. It’s astonishing. The Bible ends up where it began, in a garden but a better garden…a garden that has been developed into a flourishing city and not just flourishing externally but internally because it’s inhabitants’ hearts are hearts of worship, without any death or sin.
We don’t have time to go through all of it today but when you study heaven in the Bible it’s actually a fully functioning city with music and the arts, animals, feasts, families, money, trade, technology, play, worship centers… it’s a city full of life!
Too often depictions of heaven are so mystical as if it’s just a bunch of people stuck in church forever and ever. Oh no. No, heaven is city and life like ours but without sin, sorrow or suffering. Just imagine life now, but without anything bad and with all your dreams and desires fulfilled. It’s good.
Let me ask you a question. Isn't that what we long for? When you hear this isn’t there something inside your bones which jumps with excitement and says, “Yes! That’s it!” I think there’s this sense inside us that when we hear about the glories of city to come it resonates and deep in our inner person we know it’s true…we know that’s what we’re made for… that that’s the place we long for! Do you guys feel that way? I sure do.
But we’re not there yet. That’s what’s to come for God’s people. So what are we to do in the meantime? The answer is to seek the city. So let’s move into our final point for today and talk about it, “The Best Way to Seek the City.”
IV. THE BEST WAY TO SEEK THE CITY
We’re here. Heaven’s there. So what do we do? We seek that city.
Here’s how Hebrews 13:14 says it, “We here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city to come.”
We seek the city. Philippians 3:20 in the Bible actually says that we already have citizenship there. We’re just on a journey waiting and working to bring as many people as possible with us.
But how do you seek the city? The answer is by loving the cities of earth with the good news of Jesus.
Basically you’ve got four options when it comes to your view of the city.
1. YOU DESPISE THE CITY.
If you say you’re a Christian and you despise the city then you’ll treat the church as a fortress, we’re it’s us versus them and you’ll try to build up the wall of the church to keep the bad out.
That’s no good. It’s just moralism and besides Christians are still sinners so you end up with bad in church anyway.
2. YOU YIELD TO THE CITY.
If you say you’re a Christian and you yield to the city then you’ll just go along with the city liking what it likes and embracing what it embraces and there will end up being no discernible difference between the church and the city.
That’s no good. It rejects God law and His right to rule and to say what’s right and wrong and if you go that direction you end up with a corrupt church.
3. YOU USE THE CITY.
If you say you’re a Christian and you just use to the city, you’ll never really commit to one city, just keep moving around, sapping the city and the church of it’s time, talent and treasure without ever really contributing in any lasting way.
That’s no good. It’s cheap, immature and ungodly and if you go that direction then you’ll never really have a solid church because no one will really be committed to one another for the long haul.
4. YOU LOVE THE CITY.
If you say you’re a Christian, you live it out by giving your Jesus changed heart to the people of a city, you work in the city, care about the city, commit to the city and worship in the city and when that happens you end up with a church on mission for the city.
That’s good. It fulfills God’s call in who He designed us to be and how He meant us to live and it reflects nature of the one we claim to serve and follow, Jesus the Lord of the city.
So how do we seek the heavenly city to come? By loving a city now, as resident aliens who are committed to a city of earth but whose allegiance is to the city of heaven.
I’ll quote “Why Cities Matter” one last time because it’s so good on this.
“We are citizens of one city, yet full-time residents of another. Our primary allegiance is given to a city from which we derive our most formative beliefs and practices. And yet we live in our cities of residence as full participants. We do not live as natives, tourists, or travelers, we are ‘resident aliens.’ By His grace, Jesus (died and rose again) so we could become citizens of the city to come, making us salt and light in the city that is.”
In light of that, I have one final plea and then we’ll prepare to respond and receive the Lord’s Supper.
Here’s my plea, love the city of San Diego. Love the city of San Diego with me. Live here and commit here to this city. Some of you do love it and have committed to. Keep it up. For others of you here, would you consider it?
Tim Keller, who’s one of my favorite living pastors and theologians… and if you’ve never heard of him, he’s kind of like the protestant pope. Anyway he wrote a very, very, very helpful little article titled, “A Biblical Theology of the City.” It’s free online. It would take you 10 minutes to read it and I encourage all of you to read it. We’ll post it on our website this week.
After going through a lot of what we’ve gone through today he says this, listen…
“The single most effective way for Christians to ‘reach’ the US would be for them to move to the largest cities and stay there for three generations.”
San Diego is the 8th largest city in the country. A recent study ranked us 10th most post-Christian city in America. San Diego is a beautiful city but it’s a broken city that needs Jesus. And we need you to help us love the city of San Diego so it can be transformed and molded after the form of the heavenly city to come.
Personally, I'm committed to dying here. I plan on having grandkids here. We've already told our children that when they grow up, they're not allowed to move away. It's against our religion. :)
I can’t take the time today to tell you all the wonderful things about our city… this has already been a long sermon. We’ll post some stuff this week about our city for you. I know some of you are in college. Some of you are in the military. Some maybe just got here because of a job. Some of you have probably never even thought about any of this stuff.
What I’m asking you to do today is to just consider San Diego. Consider making this your city. Consider buying a house here, building a family here, working here and contributing to our great city. Consider making this the place you call home until the day you die or when Jesus comes with the new city.
You don’t have to decide today. If you just planned on being here for a little while, then I challenge you with this… double that time. If you we’re just going to be here for a year, make it two. If two years make it four. If four, stay eight. Give it some time and see if God would give you a heart for this city.
Help us seek the city to come by loving this city.
That’s it. That’s my pitch. Now let’s sing.
Actually that's not where I want to end. I love San Diego. But I love Jesus more. And that’s where we need to conclude. Jesus gave His life, shedding His blood on the cross for our sin, for the sin of the garden so that we could be let back in.
Genesis is the book of beginnings and its been an incredible journey which finds it conclusion in the garden city to come.
Our confession today really is that we haven’t been the people God calls us to be, we haven’t produced in way He meant for us and we haven’t praised Him as we ought. But God loved us anyway and sent His Son to die for us so that we might be changed and given a love for people, a love for our work and a love to worship Him.
Respond today as God would have you…
Maybe you need God to give you a heart for a city… if not San Diego, some other place.
Maybe you need God to give you a heart for His city, the heavenly city… to make it there.
Maybe the sin, sorrow and suffering of this world has been just too much. Come to Jesus today, knowing that He paid the price for all of it so that one day it will be no more.
Maybe you need God to give you a love for people who are frustrating and challenging.
Maybe you need God to help you to know how He would have you work, what gifts He’s given you and how you might use the elements of this world for His glory.
Maybe you need God to give you a heart of worship that you might live all your life for Him.
Whatever your need is today, know that Jesus died and rose so that sin might not have the last word in our lives… He gave His life so that we might have life, in His city, the true and better city, the garden city of heaven.