Tuesday, May 13, 2008

sozoing suburbia

couple weeks ago, several us from campus church networks were talking through a passage in acts and asked the question..."what does it mean to be saved?"

one of us threw out the greek word sozo and how it described this idea of being restored back to the original intention. moreover, the cultural understanding of this word implied that the whole man (body, soul, and spirit), the human experience was "saved." this is much broader than the common perspective of being saved connected exclusively with our personal sin. as we think about what the gospel, the good news, means for our communities... if it is indeed good news...it must go beyond the good news that jesus died for our sins.

don't get me wrong, being saved from the burden and shame of our personal shame is good news. but as i read about how suburbia was designed to be this paradise where we could raise our kids but is now this commuting, consuming, isolating place...it seems to me that it suburbia needs some good news too! i think the same could said about our urban centers. the gospel needs to penetrate not just our hearts, but our actions, and flow out into the world.

so...what does it look like for the suburban context to be sozo'ed? what does it look like for the power of God, the gospel, to SAVE not just a person, but a community, region, city, nation?

one of the folks in the discussion from earlier asked the question..."if the enemy comes to steal kill and destroy and God has come to bring life and life abundant...where has the devil caused destruction in suburbia, and where God has come to bring life?"

one of things that has been very apparent about suburbia is the way that it isolates people. with homes designed for single families, the car being a necessity not a nicety, it is very easy for an entire community of friends to be scattered in all different places. our community is then fractured, not one that is borne out of daily moment by moment interactions -- but out of defined events / places that we must drive to. this is better than not having any community at all...but what if the gospel saving suburbia included the breaking of this isolation? what if...instead of fragmented communities, believers in suburbia consciously lowered those barriers by choosing to develop their community in a several mile radius of their home? what if...we actually set up structures that made us depend on one another, like reducing the number of cars that we own, or living nearby to each other so we can share resources? what if church was not some place we drove 30 minutes to once a week but what happened from monday to saturday?

as followers of jesus, we need to wrestle with the values our culture extols. i'm talking about subtle things like consumerism, independence, etc... its inevitable that we unconsciously ingest behaviours that affirm these values regardless of what context we're in. if we live in suburbia, we must be aware of these values and enact disciplines of abstince and engagement that are redeem and counter to suburbia's values. its in these places that we are cooperating with how the Holy Spirit will bring transformation to suburbia.

may we continue to dream for the sozoing of suburbia and the urban centers. Holy Spirit give us eyes to see and ears to hear. maranatha!

closing thoughts from living at the crossroads: church & mission:
"One of the reasons we have to create evangelism programs is that no one is asking us questions such as, "What is the reason for the hope within you", "Why do you live so differently" or "Why do you love the poor, provide service widows and care for prisoners?" Our churches are so rooted in the Western story that would our neighbors think if we had Jesus removed from our life that our treasure would be removed? Or would they think it would be a small loss in relation to how we live seeking to pursue the American dream along with the rest of our unbelieving neighbors? In Acts and the early church evangelism was built on questions because of the radical alternative way Christians lived."

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