I love Cincinnati. Many of you will nod your heads in agreement. Cincinnatians all know and love the view of our precious skyline when driving over the bridge. We all love the unpredictability of our beloved sports teams. There’s something about the way we eat our chili that brings us together. All of these characteristics stick out in my mind and make me smile.
We all know those people who put on a bold front with a courageous smile, but deep down they are hurting, they are broken. Cincinnati is one of those people.
We’re quick to travel the world and help other people living in poverty. When the truth is, that poverty is right in front of us.
After hearing my pastor talk awhile back, I came to the upsetting realization that the beautiful skyline is just a mask of the devastating statistics coming out of our city. Statistics like: our children are ranked the 2nd poorest group of children in the nation. Over the summer, when not given school meals, these children are facing a 1 BILLION calorie deficit. A person cannot walk out of a Reds’ game without seeing at least 5 people asking for money. Poverty is a problem in Cincinnati. There’s no way around that fact. Contributing to the poverty is the drug problem. The Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky area is the epicenter of the heroin epidemic in America. When did we let it get this bad? How? Cincinnati is ranked the 9th unhappiest city in the United States. I am not trying to be a Debby-Downer and make anyone feel bad about the condition of Cincinnati. Because despite all of these issues, I still love this city and you do too. That is our solution to these issues. Love. Sacrificial, hardcore love.
Many people are spending large amounts of time and money to find solutions to these problems. Poverty, heroin, and depression are not quick fixes. These problems do not warrant an easy solution. While I don’t have any profound solutions or insights, I do have love.
Not all of us understand the concept of love. It’s not about making people feel good. Love is not a business deal. It’s not “I give you this and you give me that.” It’s giving up what you want and expecting nothing in return. Love is sacrificial. God sent His one and only son because He loved us. That is the ultimate sacrificial love.
We can build government housing, open 10 more soup kitchens, provide more rehab centers, but without love, the heart is still poor. Love is something everyone can do. Love the people. Love the city. Love our God. That’s my solution.
I love Cincinnati.
And Jesus loves you!