By Francis Frangipane
All We Lack Is Christlikeness!
Jesus has a word to say, not only to us as individuals, but to entire cities as well. Luke records Jesus confronting a number of cities where He had performed miracles. We read: "Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent" (Matt. 11:20).
I know we picture Christ in His gentleness and compassion, and so we should. However, Jesus strongly rebuked the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum (vv. 21, 23). And we shouldn't stop there, for with tears in His eyes, He wept and cried out to Jerusalem (Luke 13:34). If the Lord expected cities to repent in the first century, He expects cities can come to repentance again today, even as the men of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah!
It was in this very context of reproving cities, however, that Jesus
made a statement that unveiled the scope of God's redemptive power. He
said, "For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred
in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes"
Tyre and Sidon were Gentile cities known for their debauchery and sin. Yet Jesus said that His life, revealed in power, can bring even the vilest of cities to "sackcloth and ashes." The strategy, therefore, to win our cities is for the church to reveal Christ's life in power. Yes, the revelation of Christ in us starts for us as individuals, but it multiplies when His life is revealed corporately in His body. Jesus says even the worst cities can repent and find God!
What hinders the turning of the people's hearts? Part of the answer lies with the church, with our sins of self-righteousness, indifference and unbelief. Pastors, listen, the future does not belong to the world; it belongs to the transformed church! God "desires all men to be saved" (1 Tim. 2:4). The sacrifice of Christ pays for the salvation of all men. Heaven waits only for the church to act.
One may say, "But that was then. Our cities are worse. They are beyond redemption." Not so. Jesus continued His correction of cities, saying, "If the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day" (Matt. 11:23). Amazingly, when Christ is manifested in power, Jesus said even Sodom could find repentance!
Is America Sodom? Not yet, but it seems like it wants to be. In spite of America’s embrace of darkness, I believe all we need is a genuine move of God -- real miracles and actual transformed lives -- and multitudes in darkness will come to the light. Indeed, our cities have seen hell, so now let the church show them Heaven. The promise of Christ is that even Sodom could repent in the atmosphere and revelation of Christ's love and power. If there is hope for Sodom, there is hope for our cities as well!
Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, When the Many Are One, available at www.arrowbookstore.com.