What if we found out that as believers in Christ we didn’t do all that we could to share Him? That instead we constantly bought into the America Dream? What if our hopes and desires to prosper left us blind to those things that we should really be caring about? A house with our two car garage in a good neighborhood leading to an unloving nation full of disingenuous christians?
What am I talking about? Why have I started with what seems to be an attack on the middle class christian? Our cities, that’s why. The urban centers where our churches were born out of. Now I had a hard time starting this post this morning. It’s not that I didn’t have a passion for my topic or that I don’t have a ton of other topics that I want to write about. No, instead my passion for this topic is so personal that I didn’t know how I could possible communicate it but I will try to do so here.
Long ago, at least long ago for most of us, we as a culture lived in urban centers. The idea of suburbia didn’t exist. You lived in an apartment or house that was located in a major city or you lived on a farm. For my purpose this morning I will assume that most people who read this would have lived in the city. Your house was moderate in size and you worked a decent job. There was no notion of an attached garage. You had a garage behind your house that you would walk to every morning to start your car, if you were lucky enough to have one. All this was great because you would truly know your neighbors. You spent time every summer evening sitting on you steps outside you front door talking to neighbors. It is here that you would really begin to show others the love of Christ. Moving into relationships with your unbelieving neighbors that seems almost exclusive to our Churches today.
But something happened, in the early parts of the 20th century America saw a large influx of immigrants unlike any other time before. As those immigrants moved into the country the most likely place to go would be either to families in cities already living here or to neighborhoods in the city that had other people from their homelands. For those of us whose families already lived in cities it became increasingly uncomfortable. This is somewhat understandable. Different has the ability to be scary to most people. But for believers it should have led to an opening of arms and homes for our new neighbors. Instead a new type of neighborhood was developed, the suburban community. Small cities and towns located around but not entirely in our urban center. The America Dream went from living in a land full of freedoms and liberties given to all and became a house with a two car garage and two and a half kids. As Christians we left the city for the country. We drove to our churches instead of walking to them.
This still would have worked as an appropriate outreach for our churches were still in the city. We still provided great services to the poor and the hungry. That is until that fateful day in October of 1929. The stock market crashed and lead to the worst depression this country has ever seen. Everyone was harmed by it. Christians and non christians alike had no food or money. Work was nowhere to be found. Our churches had the location but not the resources to help others. In its desperation to try to stop the downward spiral our government began to pick up the mantle that churches could not longer carry. The hungry and poor no longer graced the steps of a church but instead that of a bureaucratic office.
Something happened than that we did not intend. The Christian community left the cities. Not for good but for a while. Only in the past few decades have we begun to return to them. During the prosperous years after the depression and war we lived a happy little american dream without really paying attention to feeding and clothing the poor. This isn’t to say that we didn’t make some efforts or that there wasn’t always a group of people who stayed but overall America became a Christian nation in name and we left our cities to the government to care for.
Now as we are in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the great depression we see something happening again. Instead of moving away from cities we have begun to see an influx of young christians moving toward cities. Tomorrow I will talk more about this topic. I will expand upon a vision I have had for sometime and how I hope to help use my passion for the glory of Christ in our urban centers.
So readers, I realize that this post seems unfinished for it is but if you stop by tomorrow you will see my vision. So brothers and sisters…
Let Us Be Genuine.