My story starts with a city. So does yours. Whether you live in a city or not, the city has made you who you are. I recently read Tim Keller's points on why God made cities. And yes, while all of the grand purposes of the city have been tainted by sin – like everything else in this world – the city has the potential to be redeemed. With its redemption comes hope for us all.
Here's what to keep in mind when observing the city:
1. God, the Creator, made us in his image. We are meant to be creative and productive. We are meant to build, to enhance, to develop, to cultivate. 2. God designed cities to release human potential, shelter the week, and compel spiritual searching. 3. The nature of the city under sin is greed and exhaustion. Because of sin, we burn out. 4. Cities export idols and wordviews along with their many products, ideas and designs. 5. Cities were originally safe havens. When we are scattered, we are vulnerable. 6. Cities have always been merciful places for people who don't have power. 7. Cities show the starkness of our human reality – the rawness of existence, the sickness of the heart and the transience of life. 8. Justice developed in cities. 9. Revelation says Jesus will live in the square of the city - the downtown of our redeemed earth.
Cities are places that will not let you sit back and be indifferent, comfortable and blind to temptation. Cities drive you to sell your soul to something. They always create spiritual turmoil.
When Jonah refused to enter Nineveh, misunderstanding why God wanted to save such a sinful city, God said, "Look, I don't think you have my heart, because if you understood my grace and if you understood my nature, when you look at a city, you would love it instead of hating it."
Obviously, it's no easy task to love the city. But we are called not only to love, but to weep for, identify with and preach to the city. We are to build it up through a life of blessing.