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Spurgeon’s Passion for His City

Michael O'Neal March 29, 2018

Life is too short, hell is too real, and eternity is too long not to live with a relentless passion for God’s global mission.

Charles Spurgeon had this passion, and he challenged Christ-followers to have this passion as well:

“The world is dying! The graves are filling! Hell is boasting, and yet you have the gospel! Can it be that you do not care to win souls, do not care whether men are damned or saved? The Lord wake us from this stony-hearted barbarity to our fellow men, and make us yearn over them, care about them, pray about them, and work for them till the Lord shall arise and send forth laborers into His harvest!”

Next to prayer for more workers (Luke 10:2), the greatest need in the world today is surrendered, sold-out followers of Jesus who have an intense passion for the mission of God. What does it look like to have this kind of passion? According to Spurgeon, it’s a willingness to do whatever it takes to reach people for Christ:       

"If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms around their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”

Passion for the mission of God led Spurgeon and his church to saturate the city of London with the life-changing gospel of Jesus. To Spurgeon, London was “in some respects the very heart of the world,” and a city in desperate need of more laborers and new churches. His passion was to see kingdom growth in his great city:

“For our own part we cannot live if Christ’s kingdom does not grow. We hunger and thirst to see men saved. How can they hear without a preacher? The preacher must be sent among them, and they must be evangelized, and then churches will be formed, from which the light will be yet further spread.”

Spurgeon’s passion for his city was not self-produced. It was a passion produced by the God who saved him and sent him to London for a specific purpose. God has always had a passion for sending His people to strategic, influential cities. God sent Jonah to Nineveh, a capital of the ancient world. God sent Daniel and his friends to Babylon, the capital of the Babylonian Empire. God sent the disciples to launch Christianity in Jerusalem, a religious and political center. In Acts, the center of Christianity shifted to another major city, Antioch. Then God sent the Apostle Paul from Antioch to the cities of the Roman Empire: Philippi, Thessalonica, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, and Rome. He died as a martyr in Rome, giving up his life for the sake of God’s mission in the city.

Spurgeon’s passion reflected his Savior’s passion. When Jesus approached Jerusalem, he wept over the city (Luke 19:41). Jesus showed this heartfelt mourning over the broken people he loved and longed to save (Matthew 23:37). Referring to the example of Jesus, Spurgeon encouraged his fellow Londoners to ignite their passion for their city and neighborhood:

“Go now your ways and as you stand on any of the hills around and behold this huge city lying in the valley, say—‘O London, London! How great your guilt. Oh, that the Master would gather you under His wing and make you His city, the joy of the whole earth! O London, London! Full of privileges and full of sin; exalted to heaven by the gospel, you shall be cast down to hell by your rejection of it!’ And then, when you have wept over London, go and weep over the street in which you live.”

When is the last time you wept for your neighborhood, community, or city? Our broken neighborhoods, communities, and cities need to see a Spurgeon-like passion that leads to desperate prayer and bold action.

Ask God to give you this passion every day. God loves to work through ordinary people to accomplish His extraordinary mission. Do not waste your short life in the city God has put you in. By God’s grace and power, we can be the passionate people that God will use to turn our world upside down (Acts 17:6) and make an eternal difference in the cities and people we love.

Michael O'Neal (Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) lives in Cumming, Georgia, where he serves at First Baptist Church Cumming as Minister of Evangelism and Missions. You can follow him on twitter.