Many people have asked us why we moved into the city instead of choosing a quieter, safer suburban area. Back in December I wrote about why I love living in the city (Seattle at the time), which is part of the reason--because living so close to so many opinionated people forces me to know what I believe. But it's more than just that at this point in my life. We wanted to live in the city because of three main reasons: more diversity, better influence, and stronger boldness.
Diversity is something that is much more prominent within the city than in the suburbs or rural areas. So many different types of beliefs, educations (or lack thereof), socio-economic backgrounds, and other varieties make up an atmosphere that is somewhat uncomfortable. The movie Crash is one of my favorites because it makes me feel uncomfortable after viewing the racial stereotypes and slurs, knowing that deep down it is sin that causes people to be bitter towards others that are different. It's so real and true. It happens every day.
Because of this sin, it makes me want to be a better influence in this place. The city is a place where culture develops. Cities thrive, they grow, and they are highly valued. Education and knowledge pours out of the city. Businesses compete to become better and better at what they do. Technology is utilized in new ways. And along with all of these good things, it is also where God is neglected and sin is frequent. We want to live here not because there is more crime and less morality, but to be an instrument of change in this place. There is, of course, sin everywhere and sinners are everywhere, so to try and avoid it would be silly. At least here it is more obvious that we are living lives that are different than our neighbors.
Which leads me to my last reason for wanting to live in the city: to develop stronger boldness. Throughout my life I have been short and scrawny. I didn't feel like I could be much of an influence on my peers because of this, so I hadn't worked on being bold. Now, I am grown up. I have a wife. A family. I am the leader of my home and I'm working towards leading and teaching kids. It's a given now that I should know how to be bold when I need to be. All Christians should especially be bold when it comes to defending Jesus' name in their lives. Living in the city, where you get swept aside if you aren't bold enough, is right where God wants to spark growth in me. I want to be a bold example for Christ in a city that doesn't understand true purpose.
I love the city of Portland. I am excited about what TriMet is doing. I am fascinated by Metro. I am pumped about getting involved with the education system. I am looking forward to becoming an informed voter. I enjoy drinking beer. Jen and I are both pumped to go explore the various unique neighborhoods here. I am thrilled to be a responsible adult. I want to make a difference in this place, even if it ends up being a little tiny difference, at least it's something.
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.
1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (NASB)