Solomon's life as a king went through extreme highs and lows. His wisdom became, I am sure, a torment, because in the lows he clearly knew who and what behavior was driving the results. In hindsight he said, “When right-living people bless the city, it flourishes; evil talk turns it into a ghost town in no time.” (Proverbs 11.11) In his day and during his reign, Jerusalem was a metaphorical ghost town for long periods. I listen to his words and have little doubt that the statements were true of yesterday, but what of today? Are we any different? Are we merely followers of the same destructive cycle?
Today you and I live within cities that lie within cities that lay within yet more cities. I suggest that our city is the immediately family and friends that we see everyday. Just beyond that are the people we work with and frequently do business with; those who know our name yet do not sense a direct commitment to our lives. Beyond this are casual acquaintances. Even further are those we meet occasionally followed by the physical villages, cities, and counties in which we live, work, and play. We easily underestimate our impact on those around us, presuming that each is an island. We also overestimate our importance, often looking to nurture our ego and self-esteem. Perhaps the role of servant, God's hands, ears, and feet is a role we struggle to understand.
Spending time in New York is always a mix of then and now. No matter how much I walk and live in the present, I find myself drifting to and contrasting with the past. As I walked the neighborhoods yesterday, I found myself in an area that physically is safer, yet everything I saw expressed deeper thirst, more intense quests, and increased dissatisfaction with what had been discovered about God.
You and I have the opportunity to break this cycle. We can be the witness of God's mercy, love, and acceptance; to those around us and beyond! The new city begins in us.