God works in any city, including California's capital city of Sacramento.
Nestled between two major West Coast mountain ranges, Sacramento sits in a valley and is home to half a million people and 2.2 million overall throughout the surrounding area and counties. Sacramento is a powerhouse of education and politics, keeping the city in focus throughout nationwide news and debate.
Sacramento's location has been popular for the close proximity to the beautiful surrounding landscape of choices--Lake Tahoe, Reno, Yosemite, Central Valley, San Jose, San Francisco, Napa Valley, Mt. Shasta, and Mt. Lassen areas--all within a two to three hour drive. A six hour drive gets a resident to central Oregon, Las Vegas, NV, and Los Angeles, CA. Residents have greater freedom to travel and escape at moments notice, allowing more rest, recreation, and business than most cities.
Sacramento's architecture is one downtown, one midtown, and one old town--though at times the city feels more like one large suburb compared to San Francisco's squeezed in, bustling, diverse, corporate skyscraper culture. The Sacramento International Airport, combined with two major intersecting freeways, Interstate 80 and Interstate 5, make Sacramento a Northern California hub for families, travelers, and workers. The turn of the millennium saw a large increase in population, as many sold homes and moved from the Bay area to the Sacramento area, particularly commuters and retirees.
Many of California city names come from a religious and even Catholic background. "Sacramento" comes from the term sacrament, a symbolic act done during a church service, while nearby San Francisco is named after St. Francis of Assisi, a 12th century catholic preacher.
Historically, Sacramento is known for trains, military, Sutter's Fort, and the 1800's Gold Rush, bringing thousands and millions of people all over the world to the area. Seeking life, fame, stability, and riches, people spent their entire lives after a unique and valuable metal. Ultimately, we can say people died for gold and glory.
The gold ran dry and left people hopeless after mere decades. No city, money, relationships, or gold brings a person back to life. Families, friends, neighbors, and lives, all lost. Sacramento has experienced the utter riches of a booming housing industry and the utter hardship of 2008's housing market crisis. The new gold now might be California technology or the internal desire for a comfortable and sustainable life. No matter the type, shine, and promise, it all fails.
God loves Sacramento. God loves California. God loves the West Coast. God loves by his truth--revealed way before Sacramento existed on a map. God loves by the person and work of Christ Jesus. He is the only authentic, valuable, viable, sustainable, continual, beautiful, far-reaching, intense, robust, profound, historical, glorious hope mankind can and will ever know.
GOD AND THE CITY
Jesus taught that God loves the world, including the world's cities. Jesus declared himself to be God the Son, sent by God the Father, and confirmed by God the Holy Spirit. Like parents working as two people in nature and unity, so does God in three persons. His love is truth filled, enduring, steadfast, consistent, perfect, holy, undeniable, historical, evident, and reviving. His love affects and connects people. His love draws people back to himself. His love transforms people to love others. His love fulfills and satisfies people. His love brings life to any city. His love flows from the truth of himself.
God guides Christians to love the city, specifically their neighbor, by his truth. As a result, Christians delight in God and in people, steadfast in living differently, as content, consistent, convicted, caring, collected, cautious, and confessional people. God works through Christians to relate to neighbors, co-workers, and anyone through the rhythms of life. Christians are to be people who embody a deep sense of humbleness, an ambition to serve others, and an ability to relate to one another.
God breaks down ethnic, economical, and ethical barriers of a city, and he does so by working in Christians to be graciously involved and intensely forgiving. Christians work to relate to people, without needing to fit into or create a separate mold. Christians are people conforming to the character of God, not to be God, but guided by him to share in the ability to love and relate to neighbors without maneuvering from his truth.
God's glorious and radiant love seen through the person and work of Christ Jesus shines into hearts long before it shines in or out of a city.
JESUS AND THE CITY
Jesus grew up small town but died in the city. One group in the city gloried in his defeat and silencing and another group stood still with mixed emotions - not able to recognize the reason for Jesus' execution, while a small group in the city just grieved--relatives and friends alike. The government killed him, his own ethnic family condemned him, his friends deserted him, and his personal family stood helpless. Any city can become an inglorious place to live, acting more like a desert--lifeless and always killing life.
Better careers, great health, great education, refusing heavy responsibility, traveling, retirement, survival, and avoiding suffering are some irresistible mirages to life. Some and even all are obtainable but only for a time, until the greatest trial of our life--death--makes them all disappear.
If Jesus is dead, we find no other hope for us, a city, or the world. But if Jesus is alive, then we can have life. We can have him. Are we a city that kills and silences Jesus? Or, will we be a city of people making life all about him?