“I see violence and strife in the city.” - Psalm 55:9
The city is dying. Violence, protestors, riots, angry mobs, and villianous forces have taken over the city we love. What once seemed nothing more than a fictional, dystopian future now flashes across our screens in real time. Boarded up windows, closed down streets, communities in disarray… our burden for our cities weighs heavily upon our psyche. Is there hope for the city? Can it ever be restored?
The Old Testament prophet Amos looked out over his city with equally despairing eyes. With prophetic vision, he saw a city being burned into cinders. Those in power, twisting justice, treating justice like dirt and despising the truth. The poor were trampled, the wealthy were miserable, the religious were celebrating in their own hypocrisy. Crying in the public squares, mourning in the street, weeping over the fields and wailing in the vineyards. What was it, that the Lord was looking for from His people? Was it louder songs? No. Larger services? No. Bigger offerings? No. “Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living (Amos 5:24)." The invitation was simple and profound - “Come back to the LORD and live (Amos 5:6)!"
The burden that we are experiencing for our cities should lead us to our knees. As we repent over our own pretense and lack of concern, may we also run back to the Lord and live! Once, when Jesus was approaching the city of Jerusalem, he drew near and wept over it. Jesus cares for the city, because there are human souls, desperately seeking peace. “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace (Luke 19:41)!" Instead of running to Jesus, they resisted him…"because you did not know the time of your visitation (Luke 19:44)." They did not recognize that God had manifested Himself in human flesh and was walking among them in the city. We pray for our cities, both that God’s manifest presence would visit the city, and that the city would recognize and receive it.
Is there hope for your city? Only the Lord knows, but do not forget that you are a citizen of a heavenly kingdom. A kingdom that cannot be shaken (see Hebrews 12:28). This heavenly city awaits you, but until then, "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 (Jeremiah 29:7)."