Welcome back. You belong here.
In church circles, the term “the city” has a ring to it, it’s a badge of honor. “I’m about the city”, “I love my city”, “God loves the city”, “The poor live in the city”, I get it, I’ve done it. But for me, the city is not a cool church term, it’s simply where I grew up and that’s why I love it.
God is not just in the city, he’s everywhere, the country, burbs, mountains, beach, Africa, South America, the world. And God doesn’t love the city more than other places, that makes no sense. Truly, we could say God loves heaven more than earth, the point is he loves it all.
For me the city is where I came from and what defines me. I grew up in Managua, Nicaragua, a city of a million people, crazy taxi drivers and old revolution buses from Russia. Then at age 6 or so, I moved to Long Beach, CA before it had an “arts district” when it was all getto and burbs. I grew up in the middle of the two, in a one bedroom apartment above a house filled with 20-30 cats.
I went to two very different elementary schools in two different countries, in fact I got beat up (twice) by a White kid (the same kid) when I was 8 years old, not sure why. My high school picture was a Philippino guy, Latino guy (me), European and a White Gay guy. That was normal, there were 2000 of us.
My middle school was Latino, White and African American, all these things were normal, I only note them now because they seem to matter, but then it was just my neighborhood, my friends, my church, parks, buses.
Some people grew up in the city but now hate it. Here in the burbs I hear it all the time, they hate traffic, poverty, people, traffic, poverty, people, you get the point.
But I’m not one of them, I love the city, not because God loves the city, or because missional 30-something social justice Christians should. I love the city because it’s where I grew up and I loved it from day one. Currently I live in the burbs, first time in my life and it’s been crazy. One day, we’ll be in the city again, not because of anything hip or cool, but because like the song says “Todos Vuelven”, we all come back to the place of our birth.
If you grew up in the country, in the burbs, in the city, in Africa, in Europe, you may say now, “I’m never going back!” But my experience, now at near 41, is that at some point, we all return.
Have a great day.
Into the future,