I really do enjoy living about an hour away from one of the mega-cities on the planet. The food and entertainment, the traffic, the sports, and the outrageous parking fees makes for a wonderful evening. The windy city has much to offer – especially to the big spender (which is not me). But why does it exist? I’ve picked my words carefully. I know how it came to be, and how transportation on water sparked a migration frenzy to this part of the great lakes, and how it survived a fire, and how its massive train and cattle yards are part of its history. But why?
Because sometimes God sends missionaries to people groups across the world to proclaim the gospel and sometimes God brings people groups across the world to hear the gospel proclaimed. Paul said it this way,
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. (Acts 17:26-27)
Chicago Exists because God determined that multiple ethnic groups would exist there in a certain time in history and with a certain boundary and location in that city. Also, one cannot speak of a perimeter of existence without implying the total number of that people. God determined that a massive amount of Jewish, Polish, Russian, ect., kinds of people would migrate here but with a limit so that the boundary of their existence would be established. And the reason God did it this way is so that they might hear the truth and seek him and come to know him, him who made them for his own glory.
Six thoughts about your heart and the big city:
1. Don’t despise the big cities of the earth. Yes – they promote massive materialism, self-centeredness, and more corruption than one can stomach. But this is God’s plan to get people near the gospel.
2. Remember that big cities are filled with lost souls, not just millionaires and pan-handlers. The millionaire and the beggar both need the gospel. Both are empty and both matter to God.
3. Give a dollar to a beggar once in a while and thank God that you were able to contribute to God’s common grace. “But he’ll just use it to buy whiskey or drugs or cigarettes.” Yes he just might. So? Have you always used the good gifts and graces of life that have come your way to the “Glory of God”? Jesus once healed nine lepers, easing their pain temporarily, giving them healthy bodies for who knows what they did that evening with their new-found freedom. But he did it anyway. It is good to give to those who have reached their zenith of joy, for when they die, it is an eternity of unfathomable misery. Have some pity! This is as good as its going to get for them.
4. Pray for the churches in the big cities that they will live and proclaim the gospel. “Lord, we ask that you would continue to equip Tim Keller at Redeemer Presbyterian Church and Erwin Lutzer at Moody Church with a vision, determination, and a passion to reach the lost of New York City and Chicago (respectively). Raise up men and women in these churches with various language skills to move into new areas of the city where the gospel is not proclaimed in the native language of a particular people group.”
5. Visit a big city and stop and think about what you are seeing. Then let God’s Spirit move over you with compassion as Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Turn to scripture in your mind and then pray for the people of the city. Ask God to be merciful as Abraham pleaded for the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
6. Finally, don’t besmirch the migration of people groups whether they move into your city or your back yard. God is moving people around so that they will come under the sound of the gospel. Be ready to speak and love. Be watchful for broken and lonely and homeless people. Be thankful that God put you in the path of people on the move. This is what God did with Philip in Acts 8. The sovereign Lord of immigration put an Ethiopian in his path. Philip explained the gospel of Jesus Christ from Isaiah 53, the black man repented and turned to Christ, was baptized, and went back to Africa a new man.
Remember: Immigration might be an American problem, but it is not a Church problem, or at least, it shouldn’t be.