In Christ’s public ministry we read about him not just crying, but weeping on two different occasions. As a new father I have had a crash course in deciphering and witnessing the difference between crying and weeping.One can be conjured up in order to get something in return while the other is a response that comes without preemptive thought or planning. Weeping is the overwhelming outpour of a breaking heart that disregards all rules, motives, and stipulations. It is honest hurt and brokenness.
One of the places Christ weeps is in Luke 19:41-44 when He is entering Jerusalem for the last time. Before entering he is stopped in his tracks. He literally cannot continue walking with the overwhelming knowledge of brokenness He knows to be filling the city and people He loves. This is where Christ changes my emotional commitment and involvement with my city and the community around me.
My good friend JC Elliott is a youth pastor in Stockton, CA. He once asked me this while my family and I still lived in Stockton – “Evan, would you ever tell a kid in your youth group he’s worthless, ugly, hopeless, and has no chance to succeed? Would you ever let someone else say that to a kid? Then why are we so careless in the way we talk about Stockton. It will not get better if nobody believes it can get better. That change begins with howwe talk about our city.”
JC’s comments were less on our words but speaks more to the place that we’ve allowed our hearts to settle into. In our world it seems we’ve figured everything out, settled down, and slowly allowed cynicism of the “bad and broken” to take root. On person who speaks powerfully to this is Dr. Paul Farmer was quoted in the book Mountains Beyond Mountains saying, “Cynicism is a coward’s greatest weapon.” This is how I am working on battling the cynicism or indifferencefor the people in the city and cities closest to me.
Become Emotionally Invested: When Christ wept in Luke 19 it wasn’tbecause of His impending crucifixion. His death was voluntary. He wept because He allowed himself to become emotionally invested in the people. He did not view them as a “pet project” that was going to boost his resume, appease his conscience, or improve his standing with God. He plainly andfully loved the people in his city and could not walk away with out giving them everything He had.
Cultivate Knowledge of the Bigger Picture: Christ wept when He arrived at Lazarus’ tomb – then raised him from the dead. Christ wept when He saw Jerusalem – then He gave his own life for them. The realities of our earthly circumstances are not limiting factors in God’s Kingdom. It is one thing to be emotionally invested – but if there is no knowledge of how cities, communities, individuals, or nations can and will be changed for the better– there’s no hope. Christ held tightly to this as Hebrews tells us, “For the glory set before him He endured the cross.”
Start Small and Work to Radical: “If I’m not doing something radical then what’s the point?” A question I hear often from high school and college students as well as my own twenty-something peers. Christ’s love for the people of Jerusalem and Judea started with attending a wedding and recognizing a place to bless and serve the people around him. We can’t be immobilized by the feeling of an “all-or-nothing” mentality. The sum of many small opportunities to love our city will be the habit of saying yes to bigger obstacles and victories God has before us.
I want to love like Christ loved and weep like He wept. I want to lead my family and my community into the places that break my heart because thatis where God is ready to raise someone, some thing, some city from the dead.