I’m currently reading the excellent book, Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll. He puts forward a very compelling argument, which I have heard from a number of sources and would like to share with you now.
Perhaps the majority of Christians in the world today have a view of what heaven will be like that goes something along the lines of this: the Garden. Christians have a general view that the Garden of Eden was at the beginning and was what God intended and therefore that is what heaven will be like.
The truth is the opposite – heaven is described as an urban paradise – heaven is a city! God’s plan is to go from Garden to city, which gives us something slightly different to look forward to, but also leaves a challenge that we must, as Christians, be those who go to the city, rather than moving away, locking ourselves in our home-schooled Christian family bubble, storing up canned goods in case the tribulation starts…for the following reasons:
1. Cities are more dense - there are simply more people, so by living in the city we will have a greater impact for Jesus, just in basic numeric terms, than if we live in rural areas.
2. Cities are more diverse - people of many different languages, cultures, backgrounds move to the city, so the effects of our work are greater in terms of international connections and God’s purpose for a collection of peoples from every people group.
3. Cities create culture - in the river of culture, cities are upstream; cities are where for example politics, education, finance, health, the arts, fashion, and media are created, and rural areas inherit these. Think about it – every countryside person I have met can tell you the names of the characters in Friends, but how many living in the city could tell the difference between breeds of cow, or areas most heavily impacted by blue tongue or foot and mouth disease? By impacting culture in the cities there is a knock-on effect on the rest of a nation, and the world.
4. Cities are strategic - look at the New Testament method for building the church. Paul and his teams planted churches in each major city, ensuring that the surrounding area would be impacted by the gospel, for God’s glory and His Kingdom.
Here’s a great song to finish with – Chris Tomlin does a great version on the latest Passion album – it’s called God of this City and is wonderful.