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What the Gospel Means for Portland

What the Gospel Means for Portland

What Christ might say to the City of Roses.

So, what things are outstanding? This leads me to the second challenge. Building entrepreneurial partnerships for the common good in view of our uncommon God is good. But we have a long way to go in terms of moving beyond charity. We need to build community with the poor. Jesus loves us microbrew-drinking, gourmet-coffee-roasting, organic-food-eating yuppies and fixed gear-biking, skinny-jean-wearing hipsters. He loves everyone else, too. How intentional are we Christians and Portlanders in making sure everyone else has a place in Jesus' favorite city? We need to challenge Negro removal, and also identify more with women in their oppression and children sold to the highest bidder. Although liberal, Portland's seemingly not liberal or free enough to safeguard against human exploitation.

Will we allow ourselves to be exploited for the least's sake? We'll have to move beyond accessing the brightest and best "ideas for the common good" and live among brokenhearted lives. We need to enter into such solidarity with the marginalized, so that if they go down, we go down with them. As we identify with people broken by systemic evil heart to heart and life on life, they will teach us how great our own need for Jesus really is. The poor often sense their own need for God (Luke 6:20). "Blessed are the poor in spirit" of Matthew's gospel and "Blessed are the poor" in Luke's gospel must always be kept together.

What happens if we Christians challenge Portland in such ways, even while loving Portland? Certainly, we must continue to create space with our lives for the gospel to be heard. Still, what happens if we lose the city's favor? Will we continue loving this city, even if Portland ends up hating us for that sacrificial love?

Paul Louis Metzger is founder and director of The Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins, and professor of theology and culture at Multnomah Biblical Seminary/Multnomah University, in the Montavilla neighborhood of Portland. One of his most recent works is The Gospel of John: When Love Comes to Town. He attends Imago Dei Community in the Buckman neighborhood of Portland, and lives across the river in Vancouver.


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Displaying 3–7 of 14 comments

Brad Harper

November 01, 2011  11:40am

Thanks, Paul, for reminding us that God heals broken people by entering into their brokenness. May we be willing to do the same thing out of love for him.

Matt Spears

November 01, 2011  11:39am

I just read the article you wrote for Christianity Today and wanted to tell you I really enjoyed it. It’s interesting that you touched on the importance of partnership in ministry, it seems I’ve heard that same thing from more than a handful of individual sources over the past couple weeks.


October 31, 2011  7:43pm

God has tought us to love not hate. However we should love our own heritage and who we are as a people or our own community and pass on those traditions to our children. christian concepts

Levi Martin

October 28, 2011  12:14pm

This is something that God has been bringing front and center in my life, shattering my complacency and apathy. Portland is my city, and I own the good and the bad. I am increasingly aware that I am implicated in all the problems I see around me, but I am only beginning to see how Jesus embodies the way forward. These issues can be complex, but I appreciate an article like this one that reminds us that the incarnational love of Christ is really quite simple. It will cost us everything, because it cost him everything; but it is as simple as "follow me."

chris laird

October 25, 2011  2:06pm

In this information age it is becoming near impossible to conceive of living ones life in obedient devotion to Christ and serving his interests in others while remaining anonymous. We feel compelled to not just tell the "left hand" about the good deeds of our "right hand" but to tell any media outlet (magazines, YouTube, facebook, tweets) that will carry our story. Clearly we want men to see our good deeds but the issue at stake is always the question God's intended purpose and our own private motives - do we truly desire nothing more than for men to "glorify our Father in heaven" and if so does the "glorifying" have to go viral with ten million "views" for us to know that it has happened? For the church, "good press" appears to be at best a two-eged sword. Thanks Paul for another great article.


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