"blessed shall you be in the city"

Cities are sometimes thought of as evil, dirty, and smelly places. Places that put your mortal soul, along with your worldly body, at grievous risk. Well, I’m here to say, nuts to that. This is part of a long-standing utopian stream of thought that blames one’s surroundings for one’s downfall.

In America, we’ve got the Jeffersonians, who claim that only the sturdy yeoman, tilling his plot of land, can be pure. There’s also the Walden Pond crowd, who first attend Andover and Harvard (or schools like them), then have the leisure to appreciate the glories of unsullied nature. You know, these are intellectual first cousins to those who would keep the world pristine and undeveloped so that swells like them can enjoy it.

Here in the real world, we’ve a living to make, people who need to be dealt with, machines and other things that need to be designed, built and delivered. Not to mention that we need to share our culture with others. Enter the city, much despised, but, by God, where I live and where I’ve always lived. Along with tens of thousands of my good friends.

Cities can be snares, and it’s for certain it is easier to slip and fall when many temptations are placed before us. On the other hand, those who think they will remain pure and unsullied by taking themselves out of the city don’t understand that the fault lies not in the environment, but in our very nature.

We are fallen, and, as we used to say, we could foul any nest. Just give us a chance, and we’ll mess up anything. Are we then doomed? No. The remedy is both simple, and all but impossible to fulfill under the Law. But God has told us, in clear terms, what’s required. From Deuteronomy 28:

1 And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God. 3 Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field.

All but impossible to fulfill. But there’s really good news in the form of the Good News. Jesus Christ has made the necessary payment, on our behalf.

Because of His sacrifice, Christians may be thought to have an easier time of it. After all, we’re told, all one need do is believe in your heart that Christ is Lord, and confess Him with your lips. I’ve been on both sides of the Law, and, friends, being a disciple of Christ is, if anything, even harder than being under the Law. it’s one thing to have a rule book that one must follow. It’s quite another to go through your days trying to live as Jesus would have us live. Hoping against hope that you don’t disappoint the One who died, knowing all the while how unworthy of His sacrifice we are.

Jesus did not subtract anything. He did add His grace, for which I am thankful. No matter how hard the trip becomes.

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