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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Filtering by Tag: This is our City

It's not always that far, this mission of God

I believe in keeping our stories. I believe in the great good of inspiration that comes when we sweep over the broad landscape of our lives and mine the divine artifacts that confirm Who’s been along for the ride The present sometimes offers no more than faint, dim impressions of God with us. But the past has a way of clarifying that picture, of bringing it into better focus.

Sometimes God’s goodness is most clear in the rearview mirror.

Yes, keep your story. Please. Don’t forget.

And blogging is good for this. I regularly tell people to blog. It forces your attentiveness towards life. It makes you do the work of reflective living, which is more than just living and more than mere reflection. I like that both-and proposition of blogging.

But then, of course, there can be real fatigue you begin to feel when all you hear is the sound of your own voice ringing inside your head. Can someone, SOMEONE please interrupt this monologue -because I’ve already said a lot, TOO MUCH, and I’m all worn out on these words, bored straight through by my own wooden thoughts.

I wonder when it is I’ll meet Joan Didion’s fate, which Caitlin Flanagan illumined in her Atlantic piece, “The Autumn of Joan Didion.”

“Ultimately, Joan Didion’s crime –artistic and personal – is the one of which all of us will eventually be convicted: she got old. Her writing got old, her perspective got old, her bag of tricks didn’t work anymore.”

I’m ecstatic to say that today, I get to tell a story that’s not my own.

I’ve written a piece that runs today at Christianity Today’s “This is Our City” blog. At TIOC, they feature stories of “the new generation of Christians [who] believes God calls them to seek shalom in their cities. These Christians are using their gifts and energies in all sectors of public life – commerce, government, technology, the arts, media, and education – to bring systematic renewal to the cultural “upstream” and to bless their neighbors in the process. No longer on the sidelines of influence, emboldened by the belief that Jesus loves cities, they model a distinctly evangelical civic engagement for the 21st century. . . They all have stories worth telling. [And] wherever we live, we can learn something from these cities about faithfulness to our own place.”

I love the premise of “This is Our City.” I love that it prompts us to think about our place and what it means to be faithful to Christ in that place. Because can’t we overthink what it means to be people who love Jesus and are committed to the gospel? Can’t we get all tied up into knots of uncertainty, finding ourselves paralyzed by inaction because the WORLD IS SO BIG AND WOUNDED? Just where are we supposed to find our place in all that global hurting? Maybe we fail to see that so often, what God has for us to do and be is just beyond the front door. It’s not always that far, this mission of God.

It might even be local.

“This is Our City” captures those local stories – big and small – of people who are being faithful to their place. And these stories remind us that when the gospel came to Abraham, it was the grand and surprising announcement that he would be blessed and become a blessing.

What would happen if all of us took that proclamation into our place? If we could discover the confidence that God wants to bless us? If we could receive our blessings as the means by which to bless others?

I’ve written the story of Ins Choi who, as an artist, in partnership with his church, has blessed the city of Toronto. You can read it here. And it’s without reluctance that I ask you to share this story from the TIOC site because I think it’s a story meant to inspire the re-envisioning of the gospel for the city. It’s a story of particular interest to artists, who aren’t often discipled in what the gospel can mean for their vocation.  And it’s a story that can be important for pastors as they think about how to help the artists in their congregations move forward with confidence into their calling.