Saturday, July 11, 2009

How I Got Here - City

One more Keller article. This one's titled "A New Kind of Urban Christian." When I read this, it put into words so much that had been on my heart for the past few years. My first exposure to Tim Keller was listening to his three messages at the 2006 Reform and Resurge Conference in Seatlle. You can download that talk here. This article is a synopsis of that talk. His primary points are as follows:
  1. More Christians should live long-term in cities. Keller believes, like James Montgomery Boice before him, that Christians should "live in cities in at least the same percentage as the general population." He says that the reason we are not influencing culture is that we have left the cities. Couldn't agree more.
  2. Christians should be a dynamic counterculture. He references Matthew 5:14-16, where Jesus told his disciples that they were a city on a hill. Basically, we should stand out, not in a bad way, but in a good way. We should look different from the world.
  3. Christians should be a community radically committed to the good of the city as a whole. This article first appeared on The Christian Vision Project's website. I love the question they ask: How can followers of Christ be a counterculture for the common good? The story of the Israelites as exiles in Babylon has impacted me greatly in this area. I remember reading Robert Linthicum's City of God, City of Satan in my City class in seminary. He referenced Jeremiah 29, where God tells His people through Jeremiah that as the city prospers, so will they prosper. This is this message of being committed to the good of a city.
  4. Christians should be a people who integrate their faith with their work. It's not pastors who shape culture. It's, as Tim Chester and Steve Timmis say, "ordinary people living ordinary lives with gospel intentionality" who shape culture.

It's actually very refreshing to see that the transformation of cities is not rocket science. We don't have to reinvent the wheel. God wants to redeem and restore that which is lost. His plan has not changed. I know it may sound pretty simplistic, but I believe that in some ways we just need to do the opposite of what has been done over the past several decades. A couple of examples: instead of running from our cities because there is so much sin, crime, etc., many of us should move back, and instead of pulling our children out of our schools, let's enroll them there. But not only that, but let's get involved. Let's serve the schools. Jesus says that we are salt and light, but the only way for us to fulfill our purposes as salt and light is for us to be present.

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