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Suburban Zoning & Christian Community

January 24, 2019

A few thoughts here as I'm preparing to preach on Sunday from Luke's first summary of the early church in Acts 2:42-47.

 

In this passage, we see the first post-Resurrection Christian community really blossom - and it struck me how 'apart' we are made to live in the suburbs. 

 

In general, builders, both original ones back in the 1940's and 1950's, as well as those today, understood that people don't want to live too close to people who seem poorer than they are. So, zoning regulations, established certain requirements that kept similar sized houses together. It didn't have to be this way, of course. Streets in the suburbs could have included very random size plot lines and house sizes. But they didn't: both for reasons of efficiency and ego.

 

I suspect that very few people want to live next to someone who is a lot poorer than they are--because someone might think they're poor, too. And there are few things more stigmatizing in the suburbs than being labeled or defined as  'poor.'

 

So, to be a church of Jesus in the suburbs is to reject this idea, even while having to live in its reality. It is to open the doors of our church and truly welcome and go out of our way to invite and love people who don't live on our blocks ... knowing that we'll be rather uncomfortable doing this because we are creatures of the suburbs--and there is a part of us (see prior blog) that loves sameness. But a church that is too much the same, loses the joy of helping and serving and learning from each other.

 

So we must pray that the Spirit of God would teach us again and again that we are saved by God's grace and mercy, only, not by our net worth. And that the size of someone's home or apartment has absolutely no bearing on who they really are. We need the Spirit of truth to be stronger in us than the mold of the suburbs, which is constantly pushing us in the other direction.

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