Sustainable cities and communitiesOpen the SDG in Presentation mode
Biblical reflectionThe Bible contains an ambivalent view on the city, often presenting it as a place of injustice and sin. The city creates differences among its inhabitants, its powerful explore the poor, and it shows no mercy for those considered expendable. Not without reason, Cain, who murdered his brother, is portrayed as the founder of the first city (Genesis 4:17). The Bible draws a line from Sodom in Genesis to Babylon in its last book, Revelation. At the same time, the Bible praises Jerusalem, the city of peace. Here the Lord dwells; in the last days, all nations shall stream to it in their longing for justice and peace. “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4). Jerusalem, however, did not manage to live up to this vision. As in most cities, evil reigned, which caused the prophets’ condemnation (Isaiah 1:21–23; Jeremiah 6:6–8). Even so, the vision of the city of peace was kept alive. The Book of Revelation does not only talk about Babylon, the symbol of the power-hungry metropole spreading fear and destruction, but also about the new Jerusalem, a city with gates always open giving everyone access to its beauty and riches (Revelation 21:9–27). While Babylon is doomed to downfall, Jerusalem is sustainable and will remain forever.
- Is the Bible’s ambiguous view of cities relevant in our time? Do cities have particular characteristics that promote differences between people?
- How can the vision of the New Jerusalem inspire our notion of sustainable cities and societies?
Do your local politicians focus on sustainable development? Can you influence them to improve on doing so?
Good Holy Spirit, you are present everywhere people meet, Walk through our streets and dance in our squares. Help us to build safe cities with room for everyone. Let plants and trees, hopes and futures blossom and bloom where we live. We commit everything and everyone, into your hands, Lord. Amen.