The other day I wrote a little bit about what it means to seek the good of the city. I was prompted to think about this because we’ve just had a week of prayer as a family of churches in Birmingham and on the Wednesday night, the theme was “For the good of the city” one of the core purposes of our church. Wednesday is also Bible study night and we were looking at Mark 10. So, I thought it would be good to try and tie things in and ask the question “what things are happening in Mark 10 that can be seen as ‘for the good of the city’?”
In other words, in the chapter we see examples of Jesus engaging with people that as well as drawing them to the specific message of the Gospel have a wider overflow of blessing. We might also see it as Jesus engaging in public theology.
Here are the examples I personally picked out
- Jesus engages with the religious establishment as he debates with Pharisees
- Jesus interacts with legal matters. He challenges the case law on divorce and remarriage.
- Jesus gets political as he calls a rich young ruler to give up his wealth, care for the poor and follow him.
- Jesus challenges the culture as he rebukes those who put up obstacles to littles ones, to the vulnerable, sick and to children.
- Jesus also gets involved in healthcare as he heals the sick.
It is a good thing when Christians are involved in all aspects of society and culture. Christian healthcare workers, family court lawyers, local councillors and civil servants all have a positive example to follow here.
Notice though how Jesus engages. Contra a lot of our understanding of social action, it’s not that he is doing good, disconnected from his proclamation of God’s Word. When Jesus challenges the elites and when Jesus shows compassion, he speaks directly and authoritatively bringing God’s word to the situation. There’s no point claiming to be engaging in politics as a Christian if at no point do you say “This is God’s word on the matter.”
Seeking the good of the city will mean that our churches are engaging with a wide variety of people. It will always mean that we know that the ultimate good of those living in the city is the Gospel.