God calls us to make a positive impact on the community around us

May 24 felt like a monumental day for Northern Ireland, with the lifting of restrictions and reopening of more businesses.

Rev Danielle McCullagh, curate at Lisburn Cathedral

This week I experienced the pure joy of having lunch with a friend, inside a restaurant, for the first time in 2021.

The food tasted nicer than I remembered! What struck me was how happy the staff were to be there serving us. I realised that my decision to eat in that restaurant would have an impact on that particular business and the local economy. However small it may be, every decision like that one will have an impact on the city we live in. I believe that really matters to God. As Christians, God calls us to make a positive impact on the community around us.

In the book of Jeremiah, it says: “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

That passage uses the phrase ‘exile’, yet perhaps unlike me, you are a native of Lisburn.

So let me replace the word exile with the word Christian. How can I as a Christian, play my part in seeking the peace and prosperity of the city? I believe there are two practical ways to do that, especially in the coming weeks and months.

Spend local - As Christians, we are called to use our money in ways that show our allegiance to Jesus and his kingdom. It’s like we are investment bankers making decisions with God’s capital and he wants us to invest his money in line with his values. In the gospels Jesus spent so much of his time with the individual, the one who was over- looked, the one who was struggling. How can we spend our money in a way that reflects those priorities? How can I bless those who have been hit hardest over the last year? Shop and eat in the many fabulous locally owned businesses.

Pray local - If you could redesign Lisburn, what would you change? What would you have more of? What would you have less of? More importantly, what would God like to do in Lisburn? Pray that God’s peace may be realised in this city – in your neighbourhood, in your street. Pray that the people of Lisburn would experience the healing power and love of Christ and to experience the fullness that comes from being in relationship with Him. Pray for the kingdom to come to our city, because then we will begin to truly see the peace and prosperity of it.