First Class

By Dave Kleinknecht, Director of Hope for LA

Is LA first class?

Driving on the 10 the other day, I saw a billboard for a major airline that read, “Like you, LA, we do everything first class.” But does LA do everything first class?

Like many of you, I’m a transplant to Los Angeles. And maybe like you, when I first came to LA, it was not how I thought it would be. I thought the streets of Hollywood were paved with gold! Ok, that’s an over-statement, but you get what I mean.

The city, though awesome, is a lot more broken than I imagined. It’s not just the racial tension that I heard about in the 90’s, but the brokenness of the social fabric, the affordable housing crisis (yes, it’s a crisis!), the overwhelming number of orphans, skid row, and traffic.

It might be because of human nature that we tend to stay away from all these things mentioned. We don’t know what to do about them. We don’t want to get messy. We don’t want to admit that we as a city or as individuals have non-first-class issues. And so we hide, we stay alone, and we may even develop pessimism.

But what’s the right way to think about our city? As Christians, how can we correct our attitudes toward Los Angeles? How do we keep hope for LA?

Though many things could work for you, here are a few that come to my mind:

Stay humble and in community. Don’t give in to the culture of the self.

But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you. (James 4:6,10)

Serve. Our culture tells us to use people. Our Savior tells us to serve people. Without God, we serve in vain.

“It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28)

Pray. For renewal and for our attitudes to change – about ourselves and about our city.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

Remember. Though this is not our final city, this IS where God has you.

For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:10)

Believe God. Believe that God is at work, even if you’re not always aware of it.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.” I think that living in LA is a lot like a marriage. My love for Los Angeles will not sustain my commitment. But my commitment to Los Angeles will sustain my love. And knowing that God is committed to me is my greatest resource in loving this city.

This Sunday, come hear Joe, a Hope for LA volunteer, talk about how he works out his commitment to LA through serving at the Christian Legal Aid Clinic. His testimony will be first class.



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