If God visited your city, what would you do? Would you hide underneath your blanket? Would you rush out of your house and search for Him? And if you did see Him, would you rush up to Him and embrace Him? Or would you sob with shame in a corner? I wonder if you have ever been desperate enough to ask Jesus to come to you. And not only to you, but to your city. Have you ever asked Him to? Christ’s presence changes everything. His light– His glory– can transform the darkest areas of your neighborhood and turn them into Jesus zones. Consider how He is described in the Bible: “The Life-Light [Jesus] blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.” (John 1:5 Message Version) Darkness doesn’t stand a chance with Jesus. Where Jesus’ presence is– where His presence touches—there you find His fire-glory.
The weight of God’s glory involves a sanctification, a purification– yes, a fire– that will burn the evil in our hearts and set us apart in a lifestyle of holiness. God is a holy God. If you want Him to come and change your city with His blazing Life-Light, He will first start with you. Are you willing for Him to do that? He will become a purification fire that will blaze His holiness and His desires into your life. This means that everything in your life that isn’t pleasing to Him must be surrendered. This also means that what He commands you to do, you must do–even if it is inconvenient or painful. If you are willing to have this kind of commitment and relationship with Christ, then your life will become a Jesus zone.
Jesus’ presence in you will drench you with a fragrance of holiness– His holiness– for other people to smell. You will radiate with His Life-Light, with His glory. You will be different because Christ will make you different. “Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.” (2 Cor. 2:15 NLT)
Jesus loves you. He also loves your city. Is His love for your city burning in your heart? Do you want everyone around you to know what it means to have a relationship with Jesus? When Jesus walked on earth, he said of his city, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” (Luke 13:34) When we ask Christ, the Life-Light, to come to our cities, you can bet that He will want a gathering of people to Him. Not only that, but He will want a Jesus zone in every heart and in every sector of society. (Every heart? Yes. 2 Peter 3:9 says: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” NIV) I believe that God is also wanting to blaze His fire into the systems of our city. I believe He wants government and business to have a “sanctification”; a holiness. He wants monetary systems clean of corruption. He wants education devoted to Him. He wants the arts and media serving Him. Is this even possible?
I tell you: If Christ prayed in Gethsemane, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven,” (Matt. 6:10) then Christ was praying that the way of the Kingdom—not just the lifestyle of its citizens (us), but also the systems of the Kingdom, the heart of the Kingdom, the Lordship of His Kingdom—be present on earth in the same manner as it is in Heaven. If Christ prayed for it, then do you think He was expecting an answer from Heaven?
What many people don’t realize is that they have work to do in advancing God’s Kingdom here on earth. We need to take Christ, the Life-Light, into every heart and every system and sector of society. There is no such thing as lazy Christianity. “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Matthew 11:12 KJV)
Holy Violence. No, we don’t picket the streets or start rallies and force people to believe in Christ. There is no love in force, and God is a God of love. We start advancing the Kingdom by taking God’s glory in us to the darkest places on earth. But to do this, we must start with ourselves. Let Christ, the Life- Light, invade our innermost hearts, our motives, our desires, and our actions. And then from there, we take that glory and let it invade our cities.
Jan has a passion for cities. She lives in one amazing city (Parañaque) and from time to time is tapped to speak to the youth involved in government.
Janina Marie Rivera is the author of the book, A Night Bird Sings of Blindness and Fear and has co-authored the devotional, Dawns, published by OMF Literature. She is a contributing poet in the books Joyful Light and Whitmanthology: on Loss and Grief by Various Authors. She is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine.