Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

David Fitch on The Good News

Illustration by Nidhi Balwada from India

Illustration by Nidhi Balwada from India

This entry is a part of an on-going blog series called The Good News, which is taking place throughout the Easter Season, from Easter to Pentecost. A full list of the contributors can be found here. David’s local newspaper is the Chicago Tribune. Here is David Fitch on the Good News. The title of his entry is “What is the Gospel to the massive subdivisions of the North West Chicago?: Life After Easter in the Suburbs”.

THE GOOD NEWS

During this time – after Easter – as we seek to live the life given to us in the resurrection – what might be the good news of Jesus Christ to where I live?: the massive subdivisions, congested tollways, and the busy isolation of Chicago’s North West Suburbs?

It is that there is more to live for than the safe and enclosed nuclear family all secured in the gated and well-planned communities of the affluent suburban life. It is that there is more to live for than the newly revealed black hole of materialism and continual consuming that had sucked up so much of our time and energy. At a time when the suburban American dream is imploding all around us, we the church of Jesus Christ announce the good news of a new way of life for the suburbs – born out of the salvation given to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord. He, who entered our world as God and died, freely suffering to take on the antagonism of the world, has freed us from these encumbering chains to live in relationship with God, and one another in a new world order, the social space of His reign.

Suburban life has always seemed comfortable, protected from so many problems. The poor are invisible in many ways. The well-kept lawns, signs of affluence and effective schools with first quartile achievement scores, disguise the brokenness of life. And yet the emptiness, loneliness and isolation that was once so subtly disguised, has now been revealed. The financial crisis has stripped us of our secure and tidy existence. There are now signs of suburbia’s lack everywhere: excessive debt that led to foreclosure signs, 80 hour work weeks that drove us apart, addictions of all kinds that kept us distracted. In its wake, we weep over divorce, domestic violence, and children who reject their parents and the faith that once sustained them. We grieve for the loneliness, and isolation that has blanketed so many of us living its relentless pace.

In these places, Colossians 2:15 proclaims “Christ has disarmed the powers, made a public example of them, triumphing over them.” For John Howard Yoder, this text was talking about the structures that imprison us. Meant for good, these structures sought autonomy from God and turned against God working against His created purposes for our lives. They must be redeemed. The suburban structures are one of these powers gone awry.

In Christ’s death and resurrection, the claims that the suburban life made to ultimacy and the demands it laid down for ultimate allegiance are unmasked as false. Old things are passing away, behold a new order has begun – 2 Cor 5:17. We proclaim the good news to the Northwest Suburbs that calls people through Christ into this new creation, this reordering of social life in the burbs. The gospel is seeing communities birthed in homes, friends made in the bars, coffees shops, missionaries being sent by twos (Luke 10:1) into various places of hurting (yes there are many in the suburbs), seeing various kinds of outposts being set up for a new way of being social. The gospel is seeing His reign extended whenever we offer a cup of comfort and refreshment to those lonely and depressed. The gospel is proclaimed when we seek out the invisible, the marginalized in the suburbs. To all we offer an invitation, to come live into His Salvation, the Lordship of Jesus Christ over all things, including over our lives. This is the gospel, because the gospel calls people into the Kingdom of His reign, to live out the reordering of our way of being social (John15:1-17). In the process, we are starting to see Jesus in the suburbs (Matt 25:40)!

David Fitch received his Ph.D from Northwestern University and currently serves as one of the three pastors at Life on the Vine. He teaches as the B.R. Linder Chair of Evangelical Theology at Northern Seminary and heads up the M.A. in Missional Church Ministry at Northern. He helped to start Up/Rooted, a collaborative gathering for Chicago are church leadership engaging in the post-modern context. He has authored many articles on church, culture and theological ethics in diverse journals. He is the author of The Great Giveaway: Reclaiming the Mission of the Church from American Business, Para-church Organizations, Psychotherapy, Consumer Capitalism and Other Modern Maladies. David is a speaker, a blogger, he helps plant churches, encourages church planters and has a new book due to come out in 2010.


5 Responses to David Fitch on The Good News

  1. Sonja says:

    David,
    Thank you for your words spoken through compassion,knowledge,insight and reveal the vision and hope of ‘behold a new order has begun’,’the social space of His reign’.
    To expose the proces of the poor from ‘invisible’ at first now through the recession laid bare ‘visible’.And how in’ its wake we weep over and grief for’…
    Especially your words about how ‘the gospel is seeing His reign extended and is proclaimed and how to all we offer an invitation to come live into His salvation’ i found helpful.
    psalm 36:5-10 i read this morning,may it bless you.

  2. Pingback: Reclaiming the Mission » J R Woodward’s “Good News” Series: Life After Easter in the Suburbs

  3. AJ Sherrill says:

    David,

    Enjoyed the read. It is rather interesting (perhaps fitting) that the suburbs are now being subjected from sympathy (at best) towards the under-resourced to perhaps an empathetic position.

    I was especially challenged by this statement:
    “The gospel is seeing communities birthed”

    It reminded me that the gospel itself is power and re-sizes me to my proper place as vessel and steward. May Jesus’ Kingdom move forward in your midst.

    AJ Sherrill
    Long Beach, CA.

  4. David Fitch says:

    sonja, thanks for the psalm; and AJ … it is interesting how the hidden forces that structure our lives are being rattled for the good … peace DF

  5. jrwoodward says:

    David,

    I appreciate the holistic expression that you give to the good news and how you bring it to bear in your neighborhood – the suburbs. Thanks for naming and revealing some of the real issues behind the apparent orderliness of what is visible outwardly – i.e. the manicured lawns and such. And thanks for calling all to a new world order with new social realities. It’s was a rich read.

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