I attended a board meeting in London today and my route to and from the meeting took me, on foot, through Parliament Square, past Westminster Methodist Central Hall, across Dean’s Yard then past St John’s Church. I have walked that route dozens of times—I’ve been on that board for more than 30 years!
This time, more than most, I reflected on how Jesus built London. This, my favourite city in the whole world, reflects the impact of Biblical Christianity on Western society as much as any. But it’s not confined to historical buildings and parks. There are deep values that are rooted in Jesus, the perfect expression of God.
As I walked through the tunnels of the underground, I began to hear the accomplished sounds of a pianist. There are designated places where artists can perform for the passing public and he was occupying one of those spots. As I approached and then walked past him (I am a fast walker), a series of thoughts went through my brain:
“He’s good!” “I admire someone with talent and the initiative to get the permits and then spend hours playing his keyboard in an underground walkway.” “I don’t have any change on me.” By this time I was past him and walking away: “Who says I should give change?” “Give him what you have!” So I turned around, walked back and gave him £5.
When I got on the underground train, I looked at one of the small posters that cover the areas just above head height on the train and saw the following request for a donation:
I thought about this very big and busy city and was grateful that there is enough compassion that it is worth a charity advertising on the underground trains. Then I got the connection between that poster and the busker. “The one matters!” Whether it is a musician who is going through a tough time or a little boy with cancer, every single human being has value and is intimately loved by God and is designed to be intimately loved by others. Each and every person carries the image of God and so deserves respect—regardless of where they seem to fit in the social strata.
When I got to my next station and transferred to the over-ground train for home, I gazed on the constantly changing skyline of the City of London.
This is the view of the financial district from Blackfriars station platform.
I love the variety of forms and design and materials being brought together to shape this global city. Here again, we see the wonderful and most significant revelation that “the one matters.” Many outstanding architects and engineers have the freedom to be as creative as they can be. That is such a marked contrast to the architecture and engineering of the Soviet era. There, the one did not matter. What mattered was group identity and uniformity. Individual creativity was not allowed! Cities of grey uniformity grew over the decades of communist rule. They often still stand in stark contrast to the beautiful buildings, especially the churches that were built prior to the revolution.
When Jesus told the parable about the shepherd leaving the 99 safe sheep to go find the one and then told the parable about the widow throwing a party after finding the coin she had lost, he illustrated a world changing truth—the one matters.
I really love this city and feel so privileged that God called me to leave my little home town in the beautiful setting of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Jesus was evident in the beauty of unspoilt creation there, but he is also evident in this great city. It has been home to many spiritual giants in the past 800 years and has seen movements of Biblical transformation that have left their imprint on us today.
May London see another Biblical transformation in our time!