Tags: Apology, Community, Contextualization, Culture, Messy Christianity, Pittsburgh
Over the last month, my wife and I have been traveling between NY, West Virginia, and Indiana. Over these weeks we have been able to examine why people choose to live where they live.
As many of you know I am firmly committed to living in the city of Pittsburgh, and am always encouraging others to love the robo-city. As I have had to be away from the place I love I have had to ask myself why do I care so much about living in Pittsburgh? Why do I live in Pittsburgh, and why do people live anywhere?
At one point the idea of living in the city was seen by most people as a foolish thing to do. After all cities are dangerous, they are polluted and its harder to be a Christian. In recent years, this has begun to change. Gentrification has made it socially acceptable to dwell in cities. While men like Tim Keller, and others, have also encouraged Christians to see the strategic importance of Christians living in and loving cities.
To those who live in the suburbs this might come as a shock, but I have to admit when Christians who live in cities get together, they tend to bad mouth anyone who doesn’t share their passion of the urban context. There is perceived mutual enlightenment among those who live in the city. After all, we have the culture and the community that others wish they had, or should wish they had if they knew what was good for them. Folks in the suburbs might hear this and chuckle, while folks from the country might laugh at both groups and offer up their simple, one with nature life style, as a rebuttal.
Though I think Dr. Keller has many good reasons, why Christians should live in the city, I think the question that all Christians need to be asking themselves is why should I live anywhere? If you have realized your brokenness and sought redemption and reconciliation with God, than you will respond. All Christians are called to live differently, their are called to see their lives as more than simply the pursuit of comfort or safety. More than simply the accumulation of family and happiness. Too often Christians do not examine their own lifestyle choices. It is not enough to send money to missionaries who have been called to a far of place. Though not all people are called to live in some far off place, God calls all Christians to become missionaries, in a broader sense of the word.
All Christians must ask themselves where is God calling me to live?
Is God calling you to live near work so you can be home more often? Is he calling you to live in a smaller home rather than a larger one? Is he calling you to an at-risk neighborhood? Or to one of great affluence?
Let me offer up some simple principles that I have come to accept:
God wants you to love people. Pick a place where you can get to know people. Or find local ways to interact with people that you would not meet otherwise.
You should care more about God and people than about your house. Jack Miller rightly points out that most of us are too worried about scuffed furniture and wear and tear, and not worried enough about caring for people who live around them.
Your trust should be in God not in your choice of neighborhood. Christians need to go beyond buying the smallest house in the best neighborhood. People need to realize that every place is safe when you trust that Christ is on his throne, just consider the Chinese church. If you are worried about living in an “unsafe” place I would challenge you to consider how much you are truly trusting God.
Figure out how to live where God is calling you to live. People need to be loved and they need to learn of the love that died for their sake. People need this in places that are very expensive and, they need this in places that are very poor. This means that folks should choose to live in high priced neighborhoods, and others should chose to live in lower cost neighborhoods. Each brings risks and rewards.
Live where God is calling you not necessarily where you want to live. “Not my will but your will” ring a bell?
Some might look at where Jo and I live and say: you are less safe, or making less money on your investment. You could get more home for your money, in different area. Our answer is that as far as we can tell God has called us to live in Lawrenceville, and we plan to be their for better or worse until he calls us to move somewhere else.
I hope that all Christians will continue to ask themselves why did we move here? or where is God calling us to live?