Over the last several months, I've been reading and thinking about cities. I grew up in small towns across the South, but I worked with Johnny Rayford west of downtown Jackson, MS. this summer. Bro. Johnny changed my heart, and I've wrestled with my place in the city ever since.
World Magazine writes in a recent issue on the role of cities in the world and in the Kingdom of God. One of the most interesting things that they say is that we normally want to return to the rural life and flee the city, but the garden of Eden was rural and we failed there. They write that Heaven is going to be a city, not nasty like our cities, but a city nonetheless.
I've been listening to a sermon series on Nehemiah by Mark Driscoll, a pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. He makes an interesting application from Nehemiah's rebuilding of Jerusalem to the church's efforts to build the city of God within the city of Seattle. His exposition of the book is very good and his teaching on the church's role in the city is challenging and helpful.
I just finished reading a survey of church history in which I noticed that the church has largely reacted to and been caught up by cities. The church has often seen cities as the enemy—Rome in particular. The monastic movements rejected the city because the church often embraced the power, money, and pleasure found in the city. But when the great plagues ravaged medieval Europe, the Christians went in to care for the sick and dying while everyone else fled the cities. That may be the attitude we need right now. We don't go to the cities for the pleasure. We go for the dying..
What does it mean to live in the city and love my city?