City Changers

If you were on a business trip to the city of Jerusalem, capital city of the nation of Israel somewhere around the year 33AD, you would have encountered some very unusual happenings! Your camel-taxi driver would probably have been the first to tell you about a rather small group – 120 ordinary unsophisticated citizens almost all from a rural background – who were having a huge impact this city of 20-30,000 people. Everybody was talking about them. When you arrived at the market, you would have found that everyone had an opinion about what they were doing. Your money changer would confidently tell you, ‘I’m sure it’s a cult! Mark my words – they’re just too friendly!’ but your guide/interpreter would tell you afterwards, ‘I used to think so too until my brother who was an alcoholic joined them a month ago and now for the first time in 10 years, he’s clean!’ As you were making your orders, the friendly couple who owned the shop might have mentioned that they were part of the said group and invited you to come and check out of your services. When you checked into your room that evening, the cleaning lady would also have shyly mentioned that she was one of them and given you your second invite. By this time, you would have been very curious and dying for a chance to know more!

READ Acts 2:42-47

And so when you finally had a free day, you would have followed the directions to the temple where you had been told they were meeting. The first thing that would have struck you was the sense of joy that they all seemed to have. Their worship service was amazing; full of passion, energy and commitment to God. And it wasn’t just a Sunday thing – you could sense that their careers, families, friendships … everything about them had become transformed by what was going on. The second thing you’d have noticed would have been the relevant sermons. They were so real they spoke straight to your issues and huge transformation stories & miracles were happening right before your eyes. But even more amazing was the third very unusual thing which was their other centeredness. Not only did they seem to genuinely love each other, but people even sold their possessions including land and houses, in order to share with those among them who didn’t have. The poor were getting their needs met, the lonely were finding friends, the sick were being healed, former criminals were finding acceptance, prostitutes were being rehabilitated, marriages were being healed… In short, Jerusalem’s problems were being solved! Despite your initial scepticism, you’d by now have now understood why everyone in Jerusalem was talking about these people. And perhaps you would have joined the many visitors asking, ‘where can I sign up? I want to be part of what is going on!’

Okay back to the 21st Century… I want you to realize that this is a highly unlikely story! Very few people when they receive power or resources can resist the temptation to think about themselves first. We are naturally selfish. Think about it; if you had all the power, would you really use it to help others? Really? Let’s be real honest, when we have money, or power, or opportunity, who’s the first person in the world we think about? Me!

Whatever our reasons, whether fear of poverty or paralysis from the size of the problems, few Christians today ever come close to living that abandoned life of joy, generosity and radical other-centeredness that made the first church so attractive to the city of Jerusalem…

One of my favourite super-heroes struggled with this temptation. In the first ever episode of the comic, printed in 1962, Peter Parker was a skinny, shy, and insecure teenager; an orphan who was brought up by his aunt and uncle. But all that changed when he was accidentally bitten by a radioactive spider. All of a sudden, he was super-strong and agile and could crawl up any building and stick to any surface. He was no longer ordinary Peter Parker but The Amazing Spiderman!

At that point, he began to do what most of us would do if we had all the power. He became proud, designed a special suit for himself and set out to seek celebrity status as a TV star and make money. In the process, he ignored a fleeing thief, figuring out it was none of his business anyway. But it was a huge mistake he’d regret the rest of his life; the same thief in the course of his getaway ended up killing Peter’s uncle – his only father figure. It was only then that he realized he couldn’t live for himself. The caption at the end of the comic strip summarized his lesson; ‘with great power comes great responsibility’.

This phrase is a great summary of the lesson we can learn from today’s passage. Last week, we said ‘we’ve got the power!’ God’s power is available to all His children without discrimination. If you have accepted Christ as your Saviour, you have access to that power. But there’s a reason why God wants us to have that power. It’s not so that we can be rich or comfortable or famous. It’s not so that we can impress others with how spiritual we are. Just like in the case of the disciples, God wants to change the world through us, beginning with our city.

With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility.

For some time, I didn’t realize that’s what following Christ was about. I thought it was a way to avoid hell. I thought the deal was you get saved, and you live a good life, read the bible, pray and tell as many people about God while you’re alive as you wait to get to heaven one day. And so when I accepted Christ, I became a ‘consumer Christian’. I was looking for a good, church that could ‘feed me’ with deep, solid truths every week and bless me. This is a form of Christianity that is popular today. It is mostly propagated by Christian TV. Its features have to do with understanding deeper revelation, learning deeper truths, acquiring deeper power. It basically is about God blessing you and teaching you and caring for you and protecting you. It’s based on making your life here on earth as comfortable as possible. And it has created a whole bunch of consumer Christians who hop from church to church looking for what works best for them and for the preacher who will minister best to them. Some have even hopped in and out of Mavuno looking to be stimulated and be fed. When they don’t feel like going to church, they stay home and catch a good sermon. But it’s clear to me that this is a very self-centred, non-biblical view of faith and of God. Yes its true God wants to bless you. But the truth is that there is a purpose why God wants to give you His power and that purpose is far bigger than you!

Some of you come from families where only a tiny minority know God. You need to understand that you were not saved just for yourself but to change the trajectory and destiny of your family. Some of you live in estates or next to slums full of unemployed youth. You need to realize that you were not saved to be comfortable but to provide solutions for those around you. Some of you work in companies that are engaged in corruption. You need to understand that you were not saved for a good salary but to bring revolution and change by radically doing business differently! Some of you are students in colleges and universities; you need to realize you were not saved just so people can know you’re bright, but to be His representative to your fellow students.

With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility.

There are many who come to Mavuno hoping to find a good comfortable church to settle into. A place where you can listen to inspiring messages and be blessed… Let me put this as gently as I can; you might be in the wrong church! Our purpose is not to create consumer Christians but to change our world. And it all begins with transforming the city of Nairobi. You see God loves cities! Jesus wept over Jerusalem. He told his disciples to wait for God’s power in Jerusalem. He told them that the first place they would represent him was Jerusalem. And the bible tells us that when he returns, it will be to establish a New Jerusalem.

Cities are critical to God’s plan to save the world! Whenever there is a great work God is doing in a certain place, He starts in the city. Cities are the political, economical, and cultural hubs of a nation. Whatever happens in the city tends to get adopted in the countryside and other towns. If you want to influence a nation, all you need to do is change the cities in that nation. And Nairobi, our city, is not just a national capital – it’s the capital of the East Africa region. In fact, it’s the hub for much of Sub Saharan Africa. If you influence the thinking of Nairobi, you will influence the thinking of a large part of what many today are realizing is the fastest growing region of the world!

Your being in Kenya is not a coincidence. Your living in Nairobi is not an accident. Your being part of Mavuno church is not by chance. God will hold us responsible for this nation, this city, the companies and homes that He has made us part of. Mavuno, this city is ready for heroes like you! Romans 8:19 says ‘For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed’. This city is desperate for superheroes to emerge who will change the way things are done in our families, our neighbourhoods and our offices. Are you that hero?

Remember … With great power comes great responsibility

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11 Responses to “City Changers”

  1. muthoni Says:

    i like this “with power comes great responsibility”

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  2. Back to back marching orders from Pastor M, and taking it on…

    I start a new job assignment tomorrow and the run up to the D-day has been fraught with so many frustrations;unpaid salary for the last couple of months, bills in arrears, CountMeIn doubts, broken specs in the last month(two pairs).

    The temptation to watch doors has been great because I have been asking God what His intention for me on this job and I just couldn’t or haven’t, for whatever reason, hear Him.

    When I was given the background of the company, I wondered why I’d want to work there. It is a totally ‘unsanitized’ working environment;tax issues,

    Then I got it!

    That is exactly the environment God wants for a Mavuno Training Camp recruit/graduate. I’d be lying if I said I am not freaked out. He has picked me and mine is to say:

    Sir, Yes, Sir! Mission Ready and Reporting for Assignment, Sir!

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  3. Dear Pastor M,
    Thank you for a great sermon. I attended the Saturday service yesterday (9th June 2012). It is amazing I had not thought of attending church that evening but all the things I had planned to do that Saturday did not work out and I found myself at church without my bible and my notebook.
    However, when you started by saying that your preparation for the sermon was the most difficult and resisted one you have ever had. I panicked, because in my heart I just felt it coming that God was going to take me through an uncomfortable journey of conviction. Every time I get anxious about a sermon, its because I know God is going to tell me to do something that is not comfortable. Including but not limited to writing on the pastors blog, or walking up to the likes of Damaris etc.
    On Friday evening, I spent some four hours with a group of friends on a table that included new people I had not met. I am a CEO of an organization that works with the urban poor to do hardware stuff like land and infrastructure. The other people that were on the table were also senior people in their organizations and I was in awe. I kinda asked myself how this table coincidentally constituted itself like this. I did not plan to be there, a colleague of mine and I decided to wait for the rain to stop and the traffic to decongest and so did the rest on the table. Our conversations had nothing to do with what we all do in our organizations but we spoke of the CITY (subconsciously!!) I met the “whose who” in the theatre industry, the actors and actresses, the fans of these people and it was quite fascinating to realize that that small place may possibly have the highest level of Kenyan delights in the city. Crates and crates of drinks keep coming in and out. Am not in any way trying to discredit or be a self righteous Christian here, but am only saying that I think that when people get on a high, they become creative and that’s how ideas of theatre come around to form. I have been there in the past, where great ideas were always born from a table of Kenyan delights with colleagues. I think that people dare more when they are tipsy so I do see the connection.
    We were joined by a lady known to a few on the table. She was chewing mugoka, smoking a conventional cigarette and taking a Kenyan delight. She was very alert. This is her story…..she has spent 1 and 1/2 decades immersed in the sex trade industry serving as a social worker among the prostitutes. She told us that they are no loner referred to as prostitutes they are called “ persons at most risk (pamr)”. She lives with them in a huge house in up market Nairobi and they respect her a whole lot. At a personal level, she struggles with stress and she’s a consumer of happy drugs that help her to keep tabs and keep her head up in such a fierce industry. She doesn’t sell her body.
    She described her experience with the pamr women and men. They are so disconnected from the normal world we all live in. They do not know who their national leaders are. Yet the same leaders are their clients. So she told us that it’s amazing the business cards that the ladies hold are of such powerful leaders in this country. They are paid upto ¾ of a million for a service of less than 2hours and that money not only pays for the service but it basically covers for a confidentiality agreement. I will spare the details of this but my point is:
    a. Sex, power, drugs and money are a nexus for evil. I remember someone on the table mentioned that the occult movement thrives on such a conducive and convenient environment. My heart sunk because it occurred to me, that our nation is run by men and women who are facilators of the demonic world.
    b. Fine art and theatre industry is also at risk of being consumed by these force/world. The industry and the pamr interact very well. Even though not for the services, but as service providers. It wont be very long before we begin having our Kenyan theatre indulging in plays that influence our society negatively.
    c. I was told that pamr are not approached directly. If you want to influence these women, start by appreciating they are human beings and then celebrate them as women, period!. Am told there are over 500 upmarket massage/brothels that are in this city alone. Husbands are getting lost to these because they are conveniently located to guarantee safety, confidentiality, comfort and good service. I hear that these pamr are the new psychosocial support givers for men and women whose marriages are not working or are in distress.

    Spiritually, the city is under siege!!

    I am completely scared. I came for service and you kept telling us to turn to the person next to us to emphatically say, “with great power comes great responsibility”. That guy had no clue how that statement was making me tremble. He had a very clear and powerful voice. My take is that, even when God gives you the power to lead an organization, he has not just confined your influence to that organization only, but also to other things that surround you. That same evening, I met a group of fine artists who were introduced to me and they were very frustrated by the fact that they have been doing great art works but they cannot access any market.

    On Saturday morning, I spoke to an architect friend of mine and I was telling him that the Forbes Magazine made an analysis that the Kenya’s real estate is the most lucrative in the world. America regulates real estate industry in such a way that no developer can make more than 30% profits from the market. In Kenya, a developer makes upto 102% profit from a single development. Quite exploitative!!!. So my point to the architect was that, surely its possible to work out a way of getting our Kenyan Fine Art to be part of the works supplied for the interior décor. He’s argument was, “where are these people when we need their work?” So I will be meeting him next week together with one of the artists to find a way to penetrate the real estate industry.

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    • @Kara I am amazed at your share especially the fact that it is clear this city is under siege; if it is not at the social front then it is at the economic one. Been reflecting at just how things are slowly becoming difficult in the city and this sermon was in many ways an insight into just how much God’s values cities and therefore the reason they are vulnerable to satanic attacks. I want to be a City Changer who is Living Life Bila Regrets!

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  4. Chris , All the best in your new assignment and God Bless you to do the things you have been created to do in your lifetime…. David

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  5. SeekingYeFirst Says:

    Put well, praying for vocations

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  6. The mentor Says:

    I have missed church for a few weeks now I believe its time I made a point of coming. Reading from the blog isn’t enough. I know am in the right church because Mavuno has changed the way I view life in many ways. I am not just a consumer christian because of Mavuno…..thank you.

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  7. Now here is one city changer….Just read the story of Boniface Mwangi the photographer on CNN, he is using his talent to change the Nairobi with the grafiti’s. HERO

    http://edition.cnn.com/2012/06/14/world/africa/kenya-graffiti/index.html?hpt=hp_mid

    Like

  8. Monicah Njeri Says:

    Dear Pastor

    Someone once used an illustration, of how bad comfort zone is and i quote.(here i have to start with a disclaimer-its an uncomfortable illustration) ‘When a baby poops in his diaper,he cries of the discomfort, after a while,he rests his case and in fact,begins to feel the warmth of the diaper,when time comes to change the diaper the baby cries because the warmth has been taken away from him’
    What he doesnt realise is that, the warmth is coming from…. and as it warms it burns!!

    While we all have fallen straight from birth into the ‘usual’ the kawaida as in kawa! otherwise, called the pattern of this world by the bible, its more natural to whine about the government, the slums, the poverty, the security……This is the diaper we wear on daily basis! and what this sermon is saying, get off the pamper! push yourself out of the usual&stop pointing fingers at the heroes! You are created a hero so call on God to fill you with his spirit of courage and confidence& if you still feel afraid, DO IT AFRAID God is with you!

    I love this church, the sermons are not to rest us assured that all is well, they actually challenge us to rise up and give our all to God& know we too have not only the power but a responsibility behold…..That touched the consumer christian nerve in me…..

    God bless Mavunites & use us to change our city! so our city can change the world!

    Njeri Monicah

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  9. Damaris Says:

    Hmmh i am in a new role and i have no idea how i am to be a city changer. Since my new role began 2 weeks ago i have been having difficulty praying because i dont know how God wants to use me. Actually i have not been praying. I will wait on the Lord to see what my assignment is.

    i really hope i can make a difference in this place

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  10. This is a great sermon…the corruption in Kenya and all the evils need City Changers to arise….many weeks later this is still a relevant sermon.

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