Over the past several months, Stephane and I have visited Chicago, LA, and Toronto. These three mega-cities are impressive to say the least. What struck me about Chicago is the sheer number of super-tall buildings in the downtown district. Chicago has over 100 buildings that are at least 500 feet tall and it has 5 buildings that are over 1000 feet tall. To walk beside these gigantic structures is an awe-inspiring experience. While Los Angeles does not have nearly as many super-tall structures, what struck me is how spread out the city is. Given that LA has 15 million people, perhaps I should not be surprised at this, but it just seems like the city goes on and on and on. To travel from the north end of the city to the south end could easily take you two hours, even if the traffic is good. And what struck me about Toronto is the building boom that the city is currently undergoing. There are construction cranes everywhere as new skyscrapers pop up all over the city. Toronto is expected to jump from its current population of 6 million to 8.5 million people in the next twenty years. No doubt, I was impressed with these modern cities.
Allow me to bring some biblical truth into this conversation. The writer of Hebrews tells us, “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” (Hebrews 13:14) I might be impressed right now, but one day these great cities will lie in ruins. No matter how much longevity these cities enjoy, one day they will share the same fate as many of the ancient cities of the past. Everything in this fallen world is slowly fading away. Just try to think of one material thing that lasts forever – if my calculations are correct, you won’t be able to. Cities are no different.
“And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (Mark 13:1-2) Just as I was impressed with Chicago, LA, and Toronto, this disciple was impressed with the Temple. In fact, it was said to be one of the most impressive structures in the ancient world. By the time of Jesus, construction of the Temple Mount had lasted at least 46 years. But just as Jesus predicted, about 40 years later in A.D. 70, the Romans ransacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple.
Instead of focusing on the fading city of man, we should turn our attention to the eternal city of God. Like Abraham, we should live “by faith” and invest our hopes on the promises of God, found in Christ. As the writer of Hebrews explains, “he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:10) Like our great heroes of the faith, God’s true children “desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:16)
Friend, which city are you banking on – the fading city of man or the eternal city of God? If you do want make it to the celestial city, the only way to get there is through faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12, Acts 16:31, John 14:6, 1 Timothy 2:5). Personally, I can’t wait to see the city whose designer and builder is God. What about you?