Hospitality, Sacrifice, and Delight in God

Find your beach. The words were emblazoned on a giant wall ad across from novelist Zadie Smith's Manhattan apartment. In the ad, a large yellow beer bottle stood tall in field of luxury-blue. "Each man and woman in this town is in pursuit of his or her own beach and God help you if you get in their way," writes Smith, describing the hustle of Manhattan's self-actualizing urbanites.

I live in Toronto, and though it's hardly to be compared with NYC, the economic, intellectual and artistic pulse of Canada throbs here. Nearly four years ago, my husband and I, with our five children, moved to Toronto from the Chicago suburbs, and when people have asked about the most jarring aspect of our transition, I insist it's not assimilation to Canadian culture. It's making our home — in a city.

There is much to love about cities, and it's worth noting that the kingdom of God comes down eternally as a city (Revelation 21:2). But in many ways, the ethos of modern cities runs counter to the gospel. Where the gospel tells an old, old story, the city cherishes novelty. Where the gospel creates a family, the city celebrates the solitary self. Where the gospel forms self-sacrificing love, the city stokes selfish ambition. In the city, no one's elbowing for the cross. They're finding their beach.

Apart from conversion, we don't know the first thing about the eternal economics of losing our lives in order to gain them back (Matthew 10:39). How does holy desire for Christ and his kingdom get formed in God's people anywhere where temptations toward selfish ambition and vain conceit are legion? Or, as Augustine puts it in The Confessions, "Who will grant me that [God] come to my heart and intoxicate it, so that I forget my evils and embrace my one and only good, [himself]?"

[Read the rest of the article at Desiring God.]