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Los Angeles pastor calls cities’ growth part of God’s plan for evangelizati

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–The explosion of urbanization throughout the world should be viewed not as a cause for fear but of opportunity, according to the pastor of one of Southern Baptists’ largest urban churches.
“Radical urbanization is a movement of God,” said Erwin McManus, pastor of Mosaic, formerly The Church on Brady, in Los Angeles. “It is God bringing millions upon millions of people together so we can get the gospel to them more quickly and more powerfully.”
McManus preached on the conference theme of “Reaching the Cities or the World for Christ” during the Jericho ’98 missions festival at Glorieta (N.M.) Conference Center July 27-31.
The theme is also one of the major thrusts of the North American Mission Board, which plans the first of many Strategic Focus Cities coordinated evangelistic emphases in Chicago and Phoenix in 2000.
McManus outlined a number of ways in which God has apparently used the concentration of the world’s population to the cities not only to make global evangelization easier, but also to force the issue for Christians to step forward and fulfill their mandate of bearing the gospel.
He drew from Deuteronomy 2:24-36, which describes how the Israelites were commanded by God to possess the land of Sihon, king of Heshbon. Instead, they asked for permission to pass through peacefully, not even veering from the main road. God caused the king’s heart to be hardened, however, and it was only after Israel was attacked that they went forward and took the land as God had commanded from the beginning.
McManus likened the situation to the world of today, with the Israelites replaced with today’s Christians and the land of Sihon as the cities of the world. And once again, God will force his people do his will: in this case the proclamation of the gospel to the world.
“I am convinced that this era in our history is the hardening of the heart of Sihon king of Heshban,” McManus said. “It is that God for generation after generation … has commanded us to walk in his authority and take the kingdoms of this earth down and bring the nations to him.
“And because we refuse to move in confidence, then God hardens the heart of the enemy king. When we try to avoid the global warfare, God will intensify the battle until we have no choice but to go to war. All so he can deliver them into our hands.”
McManus noted that the word pagan actually had its origins in the word for “country dweller.” Today, the opposite has occurred, as Christians have retreated from the masses in the cities which need Christ more than ever before
“Are you raising up a generation of children who love cities, who are more fearful of God than of crime, who have a greater burden for a lost and broken world than they do for their own country?” McManus asked.
He noted how the hero of the movie “Braveheart” had the courage to travel to invade the enemy camp, while most of his countrymen were too fearful even to defend their own homes.
“I find most Christians are afraid of the emerging world invading their family, and God is looking for people who have the guts to cross an ocean and invade an enemy camp.”
He also noted that today’s culture more than ever before has produced people with “a fragmented spirit.” At one time, he said, even non-Christians were considered “God-fearers.” Many are without hope, having already rejected Christianity because of a previous experience that failed to provide the answers they seek. The mainstream church somewhere along the way, he said, stopped worshiping God and began “playing church.”
“And when somebody got really broken we’d send them to a psychiatrist,” he said. “We’d give Jesus the easy stuff and Freud the hard stuff. … And it’s because the church has lost the power to heal.”
“I am convinced,” he added later, “that the future presentation and expansion of the gospel is going to be not by people who know the message but who are transformed by it, who walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, who have an undeniable presence of Jesus Christ, and who cause unbelievers to fall on their face and worship God.”

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  • James Dotson