Being an Urban Christian
Much is made of the importance of urban Christians infiltrating urban systems. Jeremiah 29:4-7 is quoted to remind us transplants that our "shalom" is found in the "shalom" of our new city. Or we are exhorted to consider the notion that a primary element of our faith is that it is incarnational, and just as "God became flesh," so might we enflesh ourselves among urban people and urban places.
All well and good. Easier said than done. It is easy for a blogger like me to opine on all that is up, down, right, and wrong in my city, but vastly messier for me to embed myself in its politics and commerce. And it is easy to spout off truisms about the importance of authentic relationships, but vastly scarier to myself be unpolishedly authentic or to let into my world the unpolished authenticity of my neighbors.
Don't get me wrong: I believe there is great advantage to our souls and to our ministries in living in urban settings. It's where much of the action in a region is, and thus where one can truly make a difference in seeking "shalom." And while cities by no stretch have a monopoly on personal and familial dysfunction, the diversity of peoples' backgrounds and the ease of interacting with them that one finds in cities facilitates the fostering of meaningful and cross-cultural relational connections.
Still, being here is but half the battle. The other half is to actually engage, to not consider oneself above having contact with dirty politics or contentious civic gatherings or hurting people or breaking families, but to truly "incarnate," and to truly co-mingle one's own "shalom" with that of a complicated and flawed city. Easier said than done; so having said it, let's do it.