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'Most liveable' cities still need Jesus

'Most liveable' cities still need Jesus

'Most liveable' cities still need Jesus

2 August 2017

Melbourne – rated one of the world's most liveable cities. Photo: Mike Wilson

By Commissioner Floyd Tidd

Who wouldn’t want to call the most liveable city in the world, home? Coming up with the listing of the world’s best cities must be an almost impossible task. The energy and excitement of megacities like Tokyo or New York may be too much for some people, while the pace of life and amenities in a smaller city may leave some longing.

In recent years, however, the task has been undertaken by a number of agencies including The Economist Intelligence Unit. In its approach to determining the most liveable city, identifying living conditions, factors related to safety, health care, educational resources, infrastructure and the environment were included.

It’s no surprise then that many of the top-ranking cities are from Western contexts – and Australia features prominently in many “Top Cities” reports. I was struck as I read the listing once again this year and saw Melbourne ranked as the most liveable city in the world.

In the same week the pressing issue of homeless people living on the streets of the world’s most liveable city was headline news. When one walks through the city streets of any of our cities, towns and communities, including those that make the top city lists, one has to question whether everyone living there would agree with the ranking.

Would they consider the same criteria be applied or are there other matters just below the surface? Matters that are overlooked. What about affordability and options for housing that match the needs of those who call our cities home? Is it possible that a liveability assessment could overlook this criteria?

Employment options and transport access to these places of employment would certainly make a city more liveable, especially for those less skilled. Access to economic opportunity for all, including education, employment and advancement, sets up a city to be a liveable place to call home for generations. Healthy communities are places where there is expressed acceptance for and value of all its citizens.

All of these real considerations are right in front of our eyes as we walk alongside others in our communities. The question to be asked as we walk together is what do we see? What don’t we see? What are we willing to see? Are we prepared to look carefully and honestly and see the hardship and injustice within even the most “liveable” cities?

When Jesus came across blind Bartimaeus sitting on the roadside, he stopped. Bartimaeus had been calling his name as he walked by, and Jesus asked him what seems an obvious question: “What do you want me to do for you?” Mark’s gospel records the encounter and the blind man’s succinct response: “Rabbi, I want to see,” (Mark 10:46-52).

When Jesus asked a question, it was more an invitation than seeking information. An invitation to take a new step of faith. In response to his faith, Mark records that Jesus healed Bartimaeus, and he followed Jesus along the road.

As an Army committed to sharing the love of Jesus – by caring for people, creating faith pathways, building healthy communities and working for justice – we follow Jesus and walk along the roads of our communities.

As we do, how blind might we be to the hardship and injustice that exist within our own cities and neighbourhoods? Even in the most liveable cities, hardship and injustice are the experience of some of our neighbours.

Is it time to respond to the invitation of Jesus again, “What do you want me to do for you?”, with the simple prayer, “Lord, we want to see”.

And seeing, follow Jesus along the road and partner with him, sharing the love of Jesus wherever there is hardship or injustice.


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