So I haven’t given up on the idea of an intentional Christian
community. In fact, I’m moving closer to where our new church
bldg will be. I think what is hard for me is that we will be
moving into a single-family home in a suburban track home
community…and it just spells out insularity and comfort…almost to
the point where it is disgusting.
For sure, I don’t want to rough it in the ghetto just to be chic, but I
don’t want to get comfortable and settled just because I can
either. But that seems to be exactly what I am doing.
At the same time, I realize that a house can be a wonderful blessing
when the inhabitants are generous, open, and hospitable. I know
of an Iranian couple who has “adopted” the youth group and has young
teenagers over all the time, loving them, tutoring them, feeding them,
and modeling love for them. I know of a few Chinese families
where having church people over, whether for a meal or a meeting, is
the height of joy for them, and their guests. Still, I know of a white American
family who regularly brought home strangers–street people at
times–for a meal and a bed.
I think I can sometimes get caught up in the romance of getting some
friends together to live in an urban apartment complex and just
transform that little community. But it makes me wonder if I am
thinking great thoughts for God or for myself. Or is my own
gravitation toward stability for my family causing me to doubt my own
In any case, I think there is a biblical case for me to remain in the
suburb living in a house. St. Paul makes the case that wherever
we were in life when Jesus took hold of us, we should remain
there. The difference, it turns out, is not the station in life,
but who occupies that station; it is a new wo/man.
For myself, a suburbanite, I’ve told my wife that if one day God takes
away our house, we have no reason to be angry at him for it; it wasn’t
ours to begin with. She agreed. I can tell you the story
another time, but the fact that we can even own a home is an absolute
miracle. Knowing that this opportunity is a gift from God, I
really don’t think we have a choice but to use it for his purposes and
his glory. The deed has our name on it, but we both know it
belongs to him.
Maybe as the years go by, my friends and I will find that we’re all
living within 5 minutes of each other. That’s considered spitting
distance in a suburb. Whether that happens or not, I hope that I
will have the creative faith to blow society away by being a new
creation suburbanite, or the courageous faith to go against my worldly
identity and cross boundaries that my family and I are not familiar
with in order to pursue the outworking of the Gospel elsewhere.
In the end, I think the word God is looking for is not urban, insular, or intentional community; rather it is humble and faithful.