I lived in Portland, Oregon during college. I met my wife in the city. In those days Portland was a stable and beautiful place. Few cities in America have such a beautiful skyline. In the last few years parts of Portland have descended into despair. The nation watches as anarchy fills the streets and neighborhoods are allowed to become crime-ridden and trash-filled homeless encampments. This descent has been accomplished under the influence of liberal politics in city and state government and progressive forms of theology that have aligned with those failed ideas.
In the current challenges facing Portland there exists tremendous hope. It is a hope carried by the churches in the city who are not biblically compromised. These churches are trying to turn around the city’s descent with a bold and compassionate engagement with reality. I know church leaders in Portland who have not succumbed to the dark spirit that hovers over the city. In these churches, the hope of Portland’s future is held.
The Church carries the future of any city in which it lives. While daily news accounts of the despair taking place in many major cities in our nation are broadcast for all to see, a movement of love and righteousness is rising within people of faith. The leaders of these local churches and their congregations do not accept the misconception that faith and politics are to be separate or that speaking the truth in love is somehow offensive. Our faith must embrace a practical engagement with the sorrows being experienced in the community where we live, or it will not be able to influence the very issues that create and perpetuate the despair.
A shift is taking place. Many followers of Christ who bought into the deception and denial that allowed their city to be robbed of its God-intended potential are beginning to realize the error of their thinking. A future of practical engagement between Church and institutions of culture is needed if we are going to work with the Spirit to help our cities get free from the grip of hopelessness. If we fail to make this turn, our cities will suffer and our witness as a transformative presence within the culture will be diminished.