Our approach to culture can be one of many: critiquing and condemning, copying, controlling, or creating. And if you want to be culture creators, the city is the most strategic place to do this.
The Grace Of the City – The city is God’s gift. The greek and latin word for city give us our words for polite and civilized. Ps 107 calls city-dwellers blessed. Pauls missionary strategy is urban…all the cities went Christian while the countryside remained pagan. One of the reasons of the explosion of faith in the Latin and Asian world is the growth of faith in those cities.
The Grace In the City – What’s a city? Bibically, they were settlements of one or two thousand people. The best definition is a mixed use walkable human settlement with density and diversity. They must have an economic base, a cultural base, a residential base (livable space), and a legal/political base. When all of these four bases of civilization are mixed in walkable distances from each other with a density of people and diversity, a city exists. It is because of the density, diversity, and societal mix that creates culture. The opposite of this is seperate economic/residential/work/legal zones that do not intermix. We call these suburbs. A suburb is an italian buffet while a city is a pizza [CB – Tim’s analogy is making me hungry!}. This is why Paul spent his time in cities. Cities put people next to each other who are very similar and very different…community both ways.
The Grace For the City – Two types of grace needed, particularly in the city:
Love – Jonah didn’t have love for Ninevah. God said He loved the city because there were so many people there. Love requires unselfishness. Expense, patience, mobility, and endurance all go up in urban areas. A city requires from you, and needs you to give, more love. Christians have to be the loving, moral, justice-seeking presence in the dense human centers of cities.
Humility – Diversity dictates that people who don’t know you and your ways, nor appreciate you, are always in your face. This requires a humility of love to live and get along. It is much harder to live an unexamined life. When we learn how to become citizens of the city of God, we become better citizens of this city.
When we are good citizens, we impact the city, and the city impacts us.