I spent this past weekend visiting friends in New York City. Before my year in Nashville cities intimidated me. I’d like the hustle and bustle for about twelve hours and then be yearning for green grass and rolling hills. It was like a switch flipped or I would hit a wall and be ready to go home. Therefore, when I first heard Scotty introduce urban eschatology I was unsettled. The idea that paradise may be a city was something I had never truly considered. Is a city where I wanted to spend eternity? No, not really. Oftentimes (even in Nashville) I feel like a country mouse. But as per usual, God’s plan has rhyme and reason that is not dependent on my own desires.
Cities, dynamic and interesting places throbbing with their own pulse, have begun to fascinate me. In the case of Manhattan people from every background are living in harmony on a tiny island. The area becomes a pressure cooker for the melding and expansion of cultures, and the epicenter for innovation and art. Almost each race, tongue, tribe and people group can claim part of New York as their own and feel at home. One city, many people. It’s a beautiful shadow of God’s kingdom where there is unfathomable variety and difference between people, yet harmony still.
The most remarkable facet of this eschatology is that God is using human innovation in a proactive rather than reactive way. God will not raze the earth and start anew, abandoning all human creation. He will build on what humans have created because what we have built and what we consider beautiful echos what He builds and considers beautiful.
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. Revelation 21:10-11
In many ways it is fitting to be focusing on this city image for one of the last fellow-written blog post from the class of ‘17-’18. Scripture tells us that although Genesis began in the garden, Revelation ends in a city. For me, there is poetry and symmetry in that promise. It is forward-thinking and challenging. It reflects growth and adventure. Although I see many, many flaws in society, this theology emphasizes that not all of it is completely evil. The fact that God deems some of it worthy to be redeemed and made into the building blocks of His future kingdom is noteworthy and remarkable.
As the Fellows are about to part ways, I find comfort in the fact that God will use what we have built this year and continue building on it. These relationships and this community will grow and I feel confident that we will feel the effects of being Nashville Fellows for many years to come. He will use the good that is here in His future kingdom in the same way that He uses existing infrastructure to build His everlasting kingdom. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to create something that may be worthy of adding to paradise one day. Hallelujah!