Tim Keller, the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, often speaks about God’s mission for the great cities of the world. Below, I’m including a 16 minute video of Keller’s plenary session at Lausanne Cape Town 2010 Congress in which he shares God’s global urban mission.
Here are a few thoughts from Keller’s talk about why we must reach the great cities of the world with the gospel and a few of my own reasons for sharing the Gospel in New York City specifically.
Reason #1: Cultural
According to a Foreign Policy article:
The 21st century will not be dominated by America, China, Brazil or India but by the city.
In an age that is increasingly unmanageable, cities rather than states are becoming the islands of governance on which the future world order will be built. Time, technology, and population growth have massively accelerated the advent of this new urban era.
Already, more than half the world lives in cities and that percentage is growing rapidly.
Just one hundred cities account for 30% of the world’s economy and almost all of its innovation.
You know the story of the blind men and the elephant right?
A king asks six blind men to determine what they are touching by feeling different parts of an elephant’s body. One blind man feels a leg and says the elephant is like a pillar; the one who feels the tail says the elephant is like a rope; the one who feels the trunk says the elephant is like a tree branch; the one who feels the ear says the elephant is like a fan; the one who feels the belly says the elephant is like a wall; and the one who feels the tusk says the elephant is like a pipe.
Then the king explains to them, “All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently is because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all the features you mentioned.”
What’s wrong with this story?
This story is told to indicate the truth that can be found in all religions. Any religion that makes exclusive truth claims (such as, “Jesus is the only way to God”) should learn from this parable and be more tolerant of other religions.
I can think of at least three problems with this parable (If this comes across as being intolerant of foolishness, so be it.):