Sermon, 5.24.2009"City Living" Rev. Erik Bonkovsky Nehemiah 11:1-36
We've seen in our recent studies in Nehemiah how God's purpose is to rebuild not just the walls of the city, but also the people of the city. And in order to do that, the people must live life to the fullest within the city.
- City living is creative, not cool. Our purpose in living downtown is not to be in the hippest quadrant, but to bring our gifts and energy into the city. The list of names that is found in this chapter of Nehemiah illustrates the diversity of those called to live in the city, each with different gifts and abilities. Some were priests, some were particularly good at worship, etc. Together, they could display God's glory and bless others. Like the folks in Jerusalem, we are a sign to others of what will be: by finding ways to help each other, playing together, sharing meals together, and just being a community.
- City living is costly, not comfortable. Christ's model of rebuilding the city was laying down his rights. Although his position of power could have allowed him to live extravagantly and to triumph over his enemies with a lot of fanfare, he chose to submit to pain and humiliation so that he could heal his people and his city. Likewise, we'll heal our city, by being generous, and by not hoarding money or power. Just because we can't do things to earn our salvation doesn't mean he isn't pleased with us when we do obey him.
- City living comes from God, not from us. This idea of renewing a people by rebuilding the city is God's idea. In life Christ mingled with the folks in cities he traveled to, from the lowliest tax collector to the most uppity Pharisee. In his death and resurrection, he is building a new Jerusalem which fulfills all his promises. The idea of our community living within the city and working for its renewal is not a new idea; we are simply following Christ's example by imitating how he lived in his world.