Borrowed Truths

Which City

Picture of Borrowed Truths

Which City

In John Bunyan’s book “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” there are three cities mentioned, the city of Destruction, the Celestial City, and the one called Vanity Fair, and all three of these cities are separated by a great distance. In the story, two of these are in the world, and one, the Celestial City is not, and of course the Celestial City is the goal, the kingdom of God.

The citizenship of every follower of Jesus Christ is in the kingdom of God, we are not of this world, and so the content of this letter to you is to help you to determine exactly which city you are living in today. The subject matter of course is not of a geographical nature, but is one instead of the heart, not so much as one of our loyalties, for they should be unquestionable, but more in line as to where you find your mind, your thoughts constantly to be upon. We must live in this world until we are called home, but we are never to be conformed to it, (Rom. 12:2) a most difficult task at times indeed, for our five senses tell us this is reality, but the Spirit of God within us informs us differently.

When we invite Christ to live within us, we become, as it were, spiritual beings, still living in a mortal temple, but now blessed with the understanding that there is much more than meets the eye to this life. As we begin to grow in the knowledge and grace of the Lord, (2 Peter 3:18) we begin to mature spiritually, our discernment of the eternal and temporal evolves into a way of life, as we pray for a heart that has the ability to discern between good and evil, (Heb. 5:14) we are blessed with the ability to see clearly with the eyes of Christ, if you will, what is right and what is wrong, we no longer see with the “morality code” that man has for so many years tried to enforce. And as we pray to “’be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,” (Col. 1:9) we find ourselves each day less conforming to the world, and more transformed into the image of the Son of God, which is the will of God for us.

The world, the city of Destruction, is toil and struggle, strife and envy, it offers little reward for hard work, diligent and continuous labor, the promises are few and far between, the rewards can only be reaped here, and the end result is the same for all who give their all for this world, loss of everything to others left behind at your death. All who love this city of Destruction, the transitory world, will rise early to labor, rest in the evening, and then rise again the next day to repeat the monotonous, repetitive routine of making sure the gears and cogs keep moving. The maintenance of the machine is their life’s work, it will take their entire lives to ensure that the world continues to operate for the sake of the world, and at their demise, they will be replaced with others who are just as deceived as they were in their life’s endeavors. What is built in time will eventually fail, and so another must be constructed, and another, the cycle is endless, but seen by most in this city to be vital, for without the continual construction and maintenance of the world, their lives have very little meaning, that is why the vain city, the city of Vanity has been built, a place of continual, unending pleasure.

This city was built for pleasure, a place where the workers for the world can go to get away from the repetition of the maintenance of the planet, a place to forget the cares of the world, to relax and enjoy all of the temporary enjoyments that the world has to offer. What many who leave for a short time the labor of the world to enjoy these pleasures do not seem to realize is that those who offer the pleasures are toiling themselves, working constantly to ensure that the laborers worries and care can be left behind, if only for a short time. These also serve the world, but instead of dull gray and drab surroundings that encompass the daily lives of all who visit their pleasurable city, they have covered their struggles with brightly colored facades, lighted flashing signs, and promises just as fake as those that live in the continual daily struggle know, their toil is exactly the same, for behind the promise of the pleasures of this world lies the struggle to maintain the false front, the knowledge that this will not last, that the work necessary to maintain the operation of the pleasures of this world is just as difficult, and just as fleeting.

Are you beginning to see my friends the futility of living for this world, has the knowledge of the truth that all is vanity and vexation under the sun (Eccl. 1:14) pierced your soul yet. We struggle for the daily wants and needs of this world, so that we can escape for a short time to a place where others are struggling to make sure we have a temporary respite from the toil, and they in turn seek the same. The struggle and toil has reached full circle, and then is repeated. And to what avail, what have they gained, at what point on that circle will they reach their final day, the day of work, or the day of pleasure, their lives have been without any eternal purpose whatsoever, they have fulfilled the life of self, and their only joy is that they have assisted in the continuance of the endless circle for others.

The born-again believer is a wanderer and a pilgrim here, (1 Peter 2:11) and the ways of this world should be very clear to us, and in that clarity they should hold no desires within us. I heard a very good statement to this fact some time ago, though I cannot recall where it came from, “A man who knows how to find pearls does not stop to pick up seashells.” The next time you find yourself thinking that the city you live in is a wonderful place, go and look down a few back alleys, search out the police reports for that month, the next time you go somewhere that the bright lights look pleasurable and promising, look behind the fronts of those places, and tell me if you see pleasure and continual happiness, look at the faces of those who are spending their lives in the labor of that pleasurable place, and then see if those faces are reflected in the mirror when you return home to your house. As I stated in the beginning of this letter to you, this has very little to do with the actions of the flesh, and everything to do with the actions of the mind, are you able to work as unto the Lord while your hands are busy with the operations of the world?

This is not our home and we should never trust it as if it is, while once long ago we were blessed with the opportunity to tend the garden, (Gen. 2:15) now we must struggle by the sweat of our brow constantly to reap the smallest of harvest, and all that we reap only for the world will prove to be vanity and vexation of spirit, and will be left behind, for we will carry nothing out of this world. (1 Tim. 6:7) Those who understand these truths and apply them for the glory of God will find though when we get home, when they arrive in the Celestial City, the kingdom of God, all of their treasures waiting for them there. My beautiful wife and I had a conversation the other night about something that I would ask you to ponder, for it says quite a bit about who we are and where we are in our walk with Christ. Do you think there is anyone in heaven who has ever said to someone else there, “Do you know what I miss?”

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11) You have the promises of this verse here, and the fulfilment of it in heaven, and yet some of you are still living for this world, still seeking pleasure and fulfilment here, in fact some of you have become much too comfortable here, even calling it home. You will find no lasting happiness here, you will experience nothing on this earth that can be compared to what is waiting for us, the only struggle that will satisfy is the one that calls us to be obedient servants, and the only pleasure you will ever know here is that your actions, thoughts and deeds are pleasing to the Lord.

In the Scriptures we are not only encouraged but commanded not to become part of this world, and while we are here on this earth, it is the only time that we will be able to obey that commandment. Some of your rewards may be based on your obedience to those commandments, and these are the ones worth striving for.

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