Monday, December 26, 2011

Look Who's Building a City

Reading: Genesis 4  
When Adam and Eve rejected God's rule over their lives (the kingdom of God), they were immediately separated from God (Genesis 3:8-10, 23-24). The relationship between Adam and Eve was altered from peace to conflict (Genesis 3:16). Now we see that the division between people extends to brothers as well (Genesis 4:1-8). The fall brought brokenness in our relationship with God and, as a result, our relationships with one another. We see this clearly in the story of Cain.
8Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let's go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. 9Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don't know,” he replied. “Am I my brother's keeper?” (Genesis 4:8-9)
Ironically, in Genesis 4:17, we discover that Cain—the one who was not interested in being his brother's keeper—is suddenly building a city. Evidently, this was a city of people who have no desire to be responsible for one another; a city of those not willing to be their brother's keeper. This is a culture rife with vengeance (Genesis 4:24).
Throughout Genesis, we find a contrast in what people build. Cain, the murderer, is building a city; Nimrod, the mighty warrior, built several cities—none noted for their godliness (Genesis 10:8-12). In Genesis 11:1-8 we read of Babel, and the city people were building there. Each of these cities were built in opposition to the rule of God. However, Noah built an altar to God, as did Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis 8:20; 12:7-8; 13:18; 22:9; 26:25; 35:6). One group built a society in opposition to God; the other built lives around worship of God.   Abraham and those who lived by faith were building their lives around worship and looking for a city they could not build; a city who's builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10).
When Christ came he announced the Kingdom of God. In Him, the rule of God has returned and it is clearly a kingdom in which those who live there are their brother's keeper. They are called to a new command, “Love one another, even as I loved you.” The King of the Kingdom has done the most to be “His brother's keeper,” in laying down His life for us. And rather than being a kingdom rife with vengeance (Genesis 4:24), it is a kingdom rife with forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-22).
Christ is building a city that is quite different than Cain's city. Christ is building His church (Matthew 16:18), a city which is also a bride (Revelation 21:2, 9-10), and Christ is building all who believe in Him into that city (Ephesians 2:19-22). To be a Christian is to build our lives around worship of God through Christ; and it is to allow our lives to be built into the city where we are our brother's keeper! Love one another rules the day.
In a day when even evangelical Christians are becoming more and more independent, living lives isolated from people they prefer not to be around, the Gospel intends to transform us into a city where we live under the King's rule—not running from difficult relationships, but reconciling and living in a kingdom where forgiveness and forbearance prevail. Look Who's building a city now—Jesus Christ, the King of the Kingdom. Are you being built into the city?
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,