Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Does Christianity "Revitalize Life" Where We Live?

Christianity served as a revitalization movement that arose in response to the misery, chaos, fear, and brutality of life in the urban Greco-Roman world... Christianity revitalized life in... cities by providing new norms and new kinds of social relationships able to cope with many urgent urban problems. To cities filled with the homeless and impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachments... To cities torn by violent ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity. And to cities faced with epidemics, fires and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective... services. Rodney Stark


Exercising Custard said...

I interpret the word “revitalize” as another way of saying change. Since everything in this life changes, we could say things may change for the good or for the bad. For you Michigan Football fans, things changed for the bad in 2008. For you Lion’s fans, let’s just say it remains to be seen.

Anyways, since everything from individual people, entire family units, neighborhoods and even local cultures change over time, it would stand to reason that city’s are constantly experiencing some sort of “revitalization”. The question that was posed to us is, Does Christianity serve as a revitalization movement today?

Specifically in regards to my neighborhood and my city, the answer is a resounding YES. Since May of 2004, the time when my wife and I purchased our first home, the neighborhood in which our home sits has changed. For the good, we have formed an intimate relationship with a family that is wrestling with cancer and imminent death. Through that relationship, we have provided much needed physical, emotional and spiritual support as they continue to change. We have formed an intimate relationship with a family that is struggling financially, causing one spouse to work crazy long days, and we have come along side them to provide helpful services like snow removal and holiday decorating. Since purchasing our home, the piece of grass we call a lawn is in much better shape, as is the condition of our home in general.

The biggest change for the good in our neighborhood is a spirit of love and concern. We now have a group of neighbors who look out for one another. Who don’t just shovel 1 driveway, they do a half dozen. We know who has had work trouble, or a baby, or loss of a loved one. We have a greater sense of community, of belonging to one another. It would be very easy to live as hermits, never going out or leaving your home to interact with people, never befriending a neighbor, not even participating in holiday festivities like putting lights up or turning the porch light on during Halloween and giving out cheap candy. Our Christian faith changed our motivations for how we do life. We do it with others in mind. We do it with an intentional purpose. Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others”.

So, the Christians of this neighborhood (more than my wife and I), see to it that our neighborhood changes for the good. Through our willingness to serve others, God is revitalizing our street, and with that same effort by other believer’s, He is revitalizing our city.

Kari said...

I suppose Christianity does "revitalize life". I know that doesn't sound very convincing, I just don't really know if it is Christianity that is revitalizing things, or if it is people making more of an effort to have a better life. In the past few years, most lives around our area have been negatively effected by the depressed economy. I think that now people have figured out that there is a new "norm" and are finally being able to pull themselves out of the self-pity holes, and "why me", and have moved away from waiting for things to change...instead...changing things themselves. Motivation is huge for having success. It's a tough road out there. So, maybe those that are Christians are leaning on their faith more. But, what about those that have no faith? They seem to be moving forward too.

Another thought. Growing up, we had 2 families that my parents were close to in our neighborhood. Neither family called themselves Christians. But, I have to tell ya...they are some of the hardest working, generous, family oriented, would do anything for you, "good people" families that I have ever met! Now, why is that? They don't have the same faith as us, but yet, they are great people, that any one of us would love to have as neighbors and have relationships with.

That's all I can come up with now.

Tom said...

If I didn't have Christ in my life, and therefore a concern for those around me, my natural tendency would be to keep my head down and live in a cave. So, yes, I am able to connect and interact with coworkers in a much more concerned manner than without Him.