If you were to only read Hebrews 10-13 you would come away from the book with an urban theology. You would see Jesus as a King leading us to the walls of the City of God. You would see that the Faithful from Abraham to John the Baptizer have longed for God's City, a society of people, who are ruled by the love of God.
In an interesting twist to this quest we find that we come to the City where God's love reigns and yet we still struggle with chronic illness, pain, and loss and we immediately want to ask, "If God loves me so much how is it that I have chronic illness or pain while some get healed? Or how is it that people who don't love God have great health?" " Is something wrong with my faith?" "Is God showing favoritism?"
While I do not pretend to know all the whys of suffering one thing I have come to learn is that God often redeems our suffering by showing the world that he has a society, a city of people that care for each other not out of biological obligation, ethnocentric compassion, or networking favors (like the pay-it-forward for the sake of good karma). God's city is made up of people who care and serve simply because they have experienced Christ's care and service in their life and he has declared them Citizens of his caring, compassionate city.
See, when the world sees the way God’s city functions, governs itself, relates to each other, cares, cries, laughs and celebrates it sees the truest kind of City. The only way for the world to know that it is God’s City is not that we are happy and worshipful because of great health, but in the face of brokenness, sickness, pain, and suffering we are joyful and thankful. God’s city bears the same struggles, pains, hurts as the cities of man and yet we don't prey on the weak, ignore the feeble minded, loathe the inconveniences of others for disrupting our lives. No. We joyfully worship Christ in our service to each other. The way we care for each other is so beautiful that its sacred and worshipful.
I have seen baby Edith Reyes come into our City and God has attached himself to her through her struggle. Her struggle as a premature baby, and the complications of surgeries and doctor visits and how her parents, Danny and Hannah, have loved her. In the Happy City even those without biological ties, love her with familial love. Its not been her perfect health that has brought glory to God but rather its been her imperfect health and the struggle and faith of her parents and God’s citizens. This past week when Edith, an Anglo-Hispanic girl, went in for another serious surgery it was a Chinese-American mother struggling with her own health and her own son’s needs, who led the charge of getting people to pray, asking if their food needs were being taken care of, rallying the church moms and leaders to pray--really pray--for this surgery. This love, care, selflessness is what God is attached to and it gives witness to the world in ways that megaphones and fliers, billboards and TV ads can never do.
We are God's Happy City. A future reality--a health beyond physical comfortability--has been deposited in the soul of our tears and laughter that outweighs and outshines all it all. It doesn't make it easy, painless, or unmessy it just makes the City more real.