The City in My Backyard

The issue is figuring out how to live in the suburbs and still have a heart for the city. This was the place of Nehemiah in the Old Testament. It broke his heart to know the city of Jerusalem was in ruins, and he took some of the responsibility for why this was the case. We must acknowledge the systemic issues behind urban violence and take responsibility as well. Those living outside the city must take responsibility and work with those in the city to be salt and light.”

- Rev. Efrem Smith, Sojourner’s “Preaching the Word”

Within a few miles from my office I can leave the idyllic community of Loma Linda, California, where people live to be a hundred, and enter San Bernardino, once ranked the 16th most violent city in America.  Truthfully, I can go about my life, rarely venturing into this urban community in my backyard.

When you live in the city its on top of you, you can’t run from the needs, it’s in your face. But suburbia can anesthetize you to suffering and injustice. You can build a safe life (or so you think), a secluded life, where the world can be shut out. Not so in the city.

There’s lots of challenges to living missionally in the suburbs, but one of the most problematic for me? Complacency. I find myself too comfortable with nice sub-divisions, tidy neighborhoods, and picturesque streets. The Rev. Smith challenges me. I am responsible too. And here in my town I can’t escape the fact there’s enormous needs across the street. So what am I doing about? Sadly, the usual, not much.  What challenges do you face trying to live faithfully in Suburbia?

Jesus, have mercy on me. Remove my complacency. Compel me to action.  Let me not forget the city in my backyard. Amen.

Posted on by Jeff Gang in Articles

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