Written by: Chris DeWelt
Here are some facts regarding urbanization as they relate to life on our planet:
1. 55% of the world lives in the cities of the world today.
2. In 1800, only 4% of the world lived in the cities.
3. One hundred years later, that percentage of urbanization had risen modestly to 14%
4. Projections by credible organizations place the level of city-dwellers close to 85% by the end of the present century.
In my lifetime, the urban population of the world has grown from 751 million to 4.2 billion in 2018. It is in the cities of the earth where we find humanity today and it is to those cities that the peoples of the nations are streaming like a mighty river of souls.
The church cannot ignore the city. To do so is to ignore the heart of God.
We are all familiar with the story of Jonah and the miraculous delivery from death that he went through inside of a ‘great fish.’ I believe that miracle happened as Scripture records it, most especially because Jesus himself referenced the occasion. (Matthew 12:40)
But do you know the closing words of the book of Jonah? Those very words are the title of this article and they were not spoken by the prophet. In fact, Jonah not only did not care for that city in northern Iraq, he despised it and everyone in it. He was actually angry with God for saving them.
“That great city” of Nineveh was something of an ancient wonder in terms of size and construction, but that is not my point. The fact is that God loved that city enough to use highly unconventional means to send an unwilling messenger so that they might be saved. The city of Nineveh, full of pagan Assyrians, mattered a great deal to God.For far too long, the church has run away from the city. As we consider the state of the world today, let us align our hearts with God’s heart for humanity and give much more attention to the cities of the world. Who knows? They might repent and turn to the Lord!
Sources: 2018 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects, UN DESA; “Developments and Forecasts on Continuing Urbanisation, European Commission; The Church is Bigger than You Think by Patrick Johnstone, 2000, Jonah 4:10-12 (NIV 1984, Zondervan Corp.)