Nov. 12, 2007
Cities…. I’ve lived in a number of them over the years. For the last almost 14 years I’ve lived in one called Los Osos. At one point we were a fairly tight little community of 14,000 or so. But then some years ago the pressure and strain of a County mandated sewer began to test our unity and maturity, and in many ways we have not handled the test very well.
Is our community doomed to ongoing fracture, “economic cleansing” and even destruction as some are predicting? I don’t think so. To the contrary I believe our town is some day going to be a place known for its unity, tranquility, and maturity. But it is going to require some significant changes of attitude, some significant sacrifice for those willing to roll up their sleeves, and some significant mercy, favor and blessing from God.
No city will ever achieve any grand destiny that is not enabled or empowered by attitude. Attitude colors everything we do and say. It is the lens we choose to view life through. It is a close sister to perspective I suppose. My attitude determines whether I will be part of the problem or part of the solution. And believe me, my attitude can affect the city I live in.
King Solomon, the son of King David, was a highly successful city builder. You can read about the power and glory of his kingdom, and all the cities that made up that kingdom in the books of II Samuel, I & II Kings, & I & II Chronicles in the Bible. One of the things he learned early on was the destructive power of a bad attitude on the health and destiny of a city. For instance in Proverbs 29:8, he said, “Scorners set a city aflame, but wise men turn away anger.” Scorners set a city aflame. Scorning is a verbal action that is based on an attitude that believes “no one can be trusted”, “everyone is out to get me”, “everyone is guilty until proven innocent – especially people in authority”, “everyone is dumb but me”, “leaders all have ulterior motives”, etc. Scorning thrives where negativity abounds.
I know. I used to be quite the scorner, (much to my mother’s dismay). I scorned my teachers, my coaches, my Sunday school teachers at church, our school principals, the parents of some of my neighborhood friends, and later on as I began to get involved in the work of the church – I scorned others who didn’t see things the way I did. I was one negative nay-sayer. And it took me quite a few years to get in touch with this groundless negativity and see it for what it was.
Scorning can literally rip a town apart. And in many ways it has ripped our town apart in the last ten years or so.
What can we who care about our cities do about the scourge of scorning? Well as Jesus said, the place to start is not with the “specks” in their eyes, but rather with the “logs” in our own (Matthew 7:1-5). Scorning is in all of us. And for those of us who would dare to step forward and try to lead our communities and cities to healing and wholeness, we must start with a humble, honest look in the mirror. Only then will we have the attitude necessary to be a part of the solution, and not a part of the problem.