A Letter from Pastor Tim Keller
October 18, 2001
It is a privilege to belong to Redeemer when there is so much to do to help in our city. Our ministries are flooded with new people seeking spiritual stabilization in an unstable time. We are going to two morning worship services at Hunter College (9:30am and 11:15am) in order to welcome the 800-1000 additional persons in attendance each week. Churches and individuals across the country have sent us funds that have made it possible for us to begin helping hundreds of neighbors and friends with all the spiritual, emotional, and material needs that have been the result of the terrorist attack.
Now that the initial shock and overt grieving is nearly over, what is the challenge before us as a church? It is utterly natural for Christians to long for their neighbors and friends to have the same transforming assurance of God's presence and love in their lives through Christ. How could they not? But in the present circumstances Christians must not think that they can point others to God simply by providing information, however truth-full that information might be. Do we hope that our neighbor New Yorkers would be less absorbed with pursuing power, status, and material possessions? Then we must show visibly how Christ has freed us from enslavement to such things. That takes much more than words. More than ever, we need to serve the city rather than just live here as consumers.
As Augustine wrote, every human city is a political community united by a common passion--'to make a name for ourselves' (Gen 11:4). People come to the city needing to prove themselves and get an identity based on accruing and collecting achievement, beauty, status, wealth, and power. But within every human city is the "City of God", an alternate political community based on love and sacrificial service to others whose visible behavior shines out to show the world the beauty of God's grace (Matthew 5:14-17). Christians have already found their true selves (Matt.10:38-39), apart from their present or past or future performance (Rom.3:21), in Christ. Therefore in the city they make money mainly in order to give it away (2 Cor.8:7-9). In the city they seek influence mainly to "please [their] neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself." (Rom 15:2-3) And notice that Paul is talking about 'neighbors' not simply 'brothers and sisters'. Jesus did not live and die for people who were wisely believing and following him, but for the people who were rejecting him and abandoning him. Since we have the cross at the heart of our faith, we should be the most respectful and loving toward people who don't believe as we do.
So many people come to New York to 'use' it. They come to pad their resumes and make their wad and enjoy the city's sophistication on the way to the designer life they have planned. But for believers in the city, now more than ever--
"It shall not be so with you. Instead whoever wants to become great among you...must be the servant of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and give his life a ransom for many." (Mark 10:43-45)
Redeemer affords you literally scores of ways to do more service in the city. Explore this web site to find ways to "please and build up" your New York City neighbor. Throughout this site you will find information on how to connect with our vision for renewing the city.
To get a better picture of what our site has to offer, go to the home page and explore the ministry areas to which Redeemer is committed. Let me give a few examples: if you want to get more connected to others in the Redeemer community, consider signing up to be in a fellowship group, in the "About Redeemer" section you can see what our latest newsletter has in it or learn about our core values, and if you want to preview events that are coming up, check out the Bulletin Board and church calendar.
As this site is still relatively new, it will continue to change and develop in the weeks to come. I hope that you will become familiar with our website and use it regularly to help connect you and your friends with Redeemer and our desire to use the Gospel to build up and love our neighbors all around New York City.