The House of Worship
By ascribing to God his attributes, we draw near to the place where he is.
Where is the best place to live? Every year, the UN asks this question about countries, and every year they release their recommendations in the Human Development Report. Canada topped the list for the first three years of the new millennium and then slipped to third last year, nudged out by Norway and Australia. Every year, Money Magazine asks the same question about cities and towns in the US. Forbes Magazine does a similar assessment on a world scale.
The UN uses only three basic criteria to determine the world's most hospitable and inhabitable countries: life expectancy, educational level, and annual income. Countries whose inhabitants live the longest, know the most, and earn the most, win. Underneath the simplicity of those measuring sticks is a complex evaluative grid that touches on issues of politics, economics, cultural institutions, and the like. Money Magazine's touchstones include leisure activities and cultural opportunities, access to health care, number of golf courses, air and water quality, and traffic density.
This idea got me thinking: What are the Bible's best places to live? What are God's criteria for determining that? We're going to look at the Four Best Places to Live, not according to the UN or MoneyMagazine or Forbes Magazine, but according to God and Scripture.
The criteria are these: Where do we become most alive, most fully ourselves? Where do we find greatest joy and peace and wisdom? Where do we experience the deepest sense of belonging? Where is it that, at one and the same time, is safe and yet abounds with adventure? Where resides true riches?
For example, just take one of the UN's three criteria for determining Best Place: longevity, or life expectancy. According to the UN, this ...
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Mark Buchanan is an Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology at the Ambrose Seminary in Calgary, Alberta, and the author of numerous books including Your Church is too Safe.