Augustine once said that every person who ever lives is a member of one of two cities: either the city of God or the city of Man (see “City of God”). The city of God is filled with those who live for king Jesus and have lives and relationships that reflect his values, goodness, and beauty; this city lasts forever and is truly glorious. The city of man, on the other hand, is filled with those who reject the one true God, live for themselves, and pursue their own fleeting fame; this city looks glorious now but will not last, in the end it will be destroyed and forgotten.
As Christians we set our hopes in God and the “city he prepares” for His people (Heb 11:16). We are waiting for Jesus to return and our hearts are set on Him and His glorious return (Titus 2:11-14). Our attitude is this: “here we have no lasting home,” but we seek one that lasts into eternity (Hebrews 11-12).
SETTING OUR GAZE ON THE HEAVENLY CITY
An essential part to living as a Christian in Naperville is setting our gaze on the heavenly city. We must see in our hearts that the city of God is infinitely more glorious, beautiful, and enduring than Naperville or any earthly city.
Naperville has only been around 160 years or so, and it has only had its reputation of being one of the best places to live in the last 30-40 years. Contrast this with the heavenly city, which is an ETERNAL city and filled with Christians who will inhabit it forever!
Naperville is beautiful and has some really amazing homes. But the beauty of Naperville has to constantly be kept up by landscapers; in addition to this, its beauty is fleeting: one day every Naperville McMansion will decay and be bulldozed for something bigger and better. The city of God on the other hand has a beauty that is not contrived, fake or fleeting: its beauty is kept by God and reflects the beauty of God; its beauty endures and outshines the beauty of any earthly city today.
Naperville is filled with beautiful looking people with successful jobs. But one day, all of these people will grow old and eventually their makeup will not cover up the age and eventually their earthly accomplishments will be completely forgotten. The city of God, on the other hand, will be filled with a people who have been glorified and have been made beautiful with a beauty that comes from being completely freed from sin and death. This is a beauty of a resurrected body and hearts that have been made completely whole. Here is a community free from entitlement, self-righteousness, bitterness, racism, sexism, selfishness, and greed. Here is a community filled with love and righteousness. Here is a beauty that grows and grows into eternity rather than decays.
This is the city we are called into. Here is our ultimate home. Naperville is wonderful, but it is no eternal heavenly city.
In conclusion we may ask again this: Should we enjoy Naperville, its culture, people, and benefits? Of course! But we must keep it in perspective: Naperville is not the city of God; we as Christians live here as pilgrims, waiting for the return of king Jesus. This perspective tempers us and allows us to rightly enjoy the things of Naperville, without succumbing to worldliness in our hearts and lives. Such an attitude also encourages us to love the people of Naperville and invite them in to be part of the city of God, an invitation open to all who receive the Lord Jesus Christ into their hearts by faith (John 3:16). Such a perspective encourages to work and pray for Naperville and strive to help make it a better place for ourselves and our children.