Loving our City

Loving our City

June 1st is our Love Ottawa weekend. Every year we come alongside local ministries to help those who are on the front lines serving some of the greatest needs among us, right here in Ottawa. Our blog this month is focused on love and today I want to end with how we can love our city well.

Jesus said a lot of radical things! I love that about Him. In the Bible, He often grabs our attention by what He says and what He does. In the book of Luke, when Jesus enters the synagogue at the beginning of His ministry, He says this,

 “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (Luke 4:16–19)

Jesus expressed from the beginning His particular concern for the least and last among us. He was often ridiculed for hanging out with sinners and those in need.  When He was confronted by the Pharisees, He said this:

Luke 5:30-32 “But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, ‘Why do you eat and drink with such scum?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.’”

Their self righteousness was glaring.

Christians have one example whom it is always safe to follow; that is the example of Jesus. He taught us repeatedly by His life and words to care for and serve those around us, to love our neighbour and show the love of God everywhere we go. We read earlier this month that one of the ways we love God is to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.  Barney covered this in his blog contribution, but let’s look at it in the context of loving our city.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ there is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

Loving your neighbour as you love yourself is found eight times in the Bible. Loving your neighbour as yourself is so important to God that He not only repeats it Himself, He makes it a command.

In the book of James, James calls it the royal law (James 2:8). But loving your neighbour as yourself isn’t always easy. Perhaps that’s why God made it a command. He knew we’d struggle. It’s so easy to live your life with blinders on and only care for ourselves or our families, so God says don’t do that, LOVE people.

So how can we do this well?

Know that you’re here in Ottawa on purpose.

You live in Ottawa in 2024 for a reason. God’s Word tells us that even before you were born He wrote all your days in His book (Psalm 139:16). So your name, your street and your city were already known by God. He didn’t place us here just for fun and we aren’t here by random coincidence. We are here for purpose.

Jesus explains our purpose simply in Matthew 22:36-40 when He says,

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.”

Our purpose is to have a restored relationship with God, then love others the same way God loves them so that they too can have a restored relationship with Him.  But Jesus doesn’t it leave it there He says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Our purpose on earth is to love God, then show that same love to others so they can come to know Him. God wants us to point others to Him through our love for them! 


So how then should we live?

1. Be thoughtful and intentional.

Who are your neighbours? Everybody is our neighbour so we need to get to know people. Introduce yourself to your neighbours and get to know them. Bake or cook something and leave it at their door. Look for their needs and offer to help (eg. cut the grass, pick up packages when they are away, speak life over them, ask to pray if they are going through a difficult time, talk to the student beside you in school, look out for those being bullied and befriend them).

There are so many other ways you can love your neighbours by serving a ministry, an organization, a soup kitchen a mission, the Care Centre food bank, club outreach at Bethel, your local school and don’t forget to pray for your city.


2. Show grace and don’t be judgmental.

One way we can love our city is to show grace and not be judgmental. People who don’t follow Jesus live the only way they know how to live. Why would they live like  Christians?  “People don’t know what they don’t know” John 16:8  says this “When He comes, He will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.” So loving well means we can leave conviction in His capable hands. We don’t need to point out sin, or our personal standards about how our neighbours live or talk, or dress or act. Someone much more qualified has that job. Our role is to love and point to Jesus. Grace helps us do this. Grace teaches us proper love and respect for ourselves and for our neighbour, no matter how they live. Today criticism is running rampant everywhere and especially online. Let’s not be known by what we hate, but by who and how we love.


3. Act.

When Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbour?” He responded with a story: the Good Samaritan. People who don’t follow Jesus would also love this story. Luke 10:25-37

Vs 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

What do we learn from this story?

Everyone has worth

The Jewish community hated the Samaritans but in this story, the Samaritan is the hero!

The Samaritan is the one who acts. Jesus was showing us that our neighbour is anyone in need. Loving and respecting all people with dignity is at the centre of the  gospel. All people are created with sacred worth and are made in the image of God and deserve to be treated with love and kindness. I encourage you to read the story. You will find the following:

  • When he saw him, he had compassion – he has sympathy, empathy (which causes him to act), and a personal connection.
  • He went to him and bandaged his wounds, poured on oil – there’s physical care.
  • Then he put him on his animal and brought him to hotel – there’s real tangible help – and took care of him.
  • The next day, he took out two denarii and gave them to the hotel owner, saying, “Take care of him; I’ll pay the bill.” There’s financial assistance.

What a beautiful example for us to follow.

“Love is so powerful that it explodes out of the realm of feelings and it surges into action!”

This is why we love our city in tangible ways.

Our presence in our city must move beyond church attendance, Instagram likes and Facebook check-ins at our favourite food trucks or restaurants. When I was a kid we always were taught in case of a fire, “stop, drop and roll”   As believers, in our daily lives we need to “stop, look and love”.

Ottawa is full of people who matter to God! We get to partner with Him to show them the love of Jesus, who died so they could live. Let’s Love Ottawa!


Pastor Sandra

Pastor Sandra is the Connections Pastor at Bethel.  She loves Jesus and his beautiful church and finds great joy in connecting people and helping them belong.  She also loves taking the Treasure outside the walls.

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