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Most people have a love-hate relationship with the city… We love the glamor, the power, the excitement of the city – but we hate the traffic, the crowds, the messiness and corruption of the city. Even the very essence of the city which Jane Jacobs identifies as an active street life (kids playing, people walking by, neighbors sitting outside and chatting, bustling stores) gets mixed reactions from people… Many people would rather have empty tree lined streets with the occasional doorman: Park Avenue rather than Park Slope… So it’s surprising to some that God has an urban plan for Creation… The CITY of God. What does God love about Cities? Why would the kingdom be a city?
1. Cities, by definition, are full of people! Sinful people, yes, but people nonetheless! Along with their diverse cultures and viewpoints and foods and music – and everything that makes NY interesting.
2. Cities bring out the best (as well as the worst) in people… Since Ancient times it was understood that when people got together in cities to do something (even it was just to ‘survive’), they were able to do it better. So in Ancient times, cities were the places of safety – where laws could be upheld and societies formed… The countryside was every-man-for-himself. G. Campbell Morgan said cities amplified the best and worst of people, so the best of the best tend to congregate in places like New York, and challenge one another to greater things…
3. Cities are places where we see what humanity really is… You can’t live in a city without believing in Sin. If you believe people are basically good you won’t be able to process what is going on – but if you understand that every person is self-seeking, you’ll be able to cope with the city…
But at the same time you can’t live in the city without getting a glimpse of something that is great, a reflection of God in the soul of man – something that needs to be brought out and redeemed. And when God’s grace takes hold of a person’s life you can see it more clearly if he or she is living in a city!
And therefore, 4. Cities are also places that God can transform! The main thing wrong with cities is not traffic or crime… The main thing that’s wrong with the city is Sin. There’s Sin in the suburbs too, but fewer people so you see it less (it’s just less concentrated). But as God deals with Sin and redeems sinful people – cities are the place to be… Not only will the future kingdom be a City, but todays cities are the front rows to God’s work of grace.