A girl walks by, chatting on her cell phone. Her face is hard, and her conversation is punctuated with “F” words. A youth walks past. His pants are barely covering his rear-end, and the weed he’s talking about is not the one growing in his mother’s yard. Music blasts from a neighbor’s house well after dark. Graffiti graces the walls of the local recreation center. Litter on the streets. Sneakers hung over telephone lines. These are some of the familiar sights and sounds of the city of Philadelphia.
When I think fondly of the well-stocked libraries, the large, structured homeschool co-ops in churches with beautiful gyms and plenty of grass, and the well-manicured playgrounds of the suburbs, I can’t help but think sometimes, “Wouldn’t that be such a nice place to homeschool my kids!”
Then I remember how much God loves the city, and how much He needs some of his children to be there. There are plenty of examples of God’s love for the city in the Bible. Let’s look at a few:
Nineveh: In the Book of Jonah God sent a very reluctant prophet to a city infamous for its cruelty and sinfulness. Jonah obviously thought preaching to the city was an exercise in futility, and he was terrified. But because he eventually went, the people of the city turned from their evil ways. In speaking of the city God says to Jonah (Jonah 4:11) “… Ninevah has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who can not tell their right hand from their left …. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”
Jerusalem: When Magi from the East came looking for the King of the Jews, Jerusalem was the first place they looked. Jesus’s parents brought him there as an infant to be consecrated. At age 12, Jesus stayed behind in its temple. Later, Jesus and his disciples spent quite a bit of their ministry time there. It was here that the devil tempted him as he stood on the temple ( Matt 4:5). It was here that Jesus drove away money changers with whips. Here, he healed an invalid, and taught boldly at the Passover feast. It was to this great city that our Lord made his triumphal entry, and it was in the city of Jerusalem that he paid the ultimate price of love as he hung on the cross. In speaking of Jerusalem, Jesus said (Matt 23:37), ” … how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”
Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, & Thessalonica: After Jesus died and rose from the dead, the good news of his resurrection was spread throughout the Roman kingdom to many of its leading cities. People of these cities did not always receive the Word of God with joy. Indeed, riots were not uncommon. (Acts 19:29) Nevertheless, it is clear from scripture that God wanted Paul and others preaching there. Of Corinth God said (Acts 18:9-10), “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” If Paul and other disciples had not preached the good news in those cities, we would not have the wonderful books of the Bible that bear their names today.
The New Jerusalem: As we look forward to spending eternity with our Savior, we are reminded that heaven itself is a city – the New Jerusalem. Truly, the city must be a place of his deep love and affection, for our Lord to call heaven a city. (Rev 21:2) “I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” Again, speaking of heaven scripture says (Rev 21:23) “the city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light…”
Homeschooling in the city has its own unique set of challenges. But, when we remember how much God loves the city, we can continue in what can sometimes be a difficult environment. A light is seen most clearly in a dark place. We and our children are shining His light to our neighbors and all our paths will touch.
Child of God, may God grant you the strength to persevere in this City of Brotherly love, that He loves so deeply.
Copyright June 28, 2011 by Gwen Fredette
All Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV).