Living as a Christian in Naperville: An Introduction

I am a Christian. I live in Naperville, Illinois.[1] What does this look like? How does the culture of Naperville impact my faith? This is what we’ll consider together in the following blog posts.

I’m writing this mostly for my own soul. It helps me to think about topics as I write them out—Augustine once said, ‘I learn as I write and write as I learn,’—and the topic of ‘how to live out my faith in Christ while residing in Naperville’ is one I have been thinking about a lot lately.[2]

But, perhaps you wonder, ‘Why write or think about this at all? Isn’t it easy to be a Christian in Naperville? What difference does living in a particular location make when it comes to belief in God?’ Here, in this first section, I’ll seek to briefly address why I’m considering this topic.

EVERY LOCATION BRINGS UNIQUE CHALLENGES TO FOLLOWING CHRIST

A Christian is someone who has committed to live for and follow Jesus Christ as the Lord of his or her life (Col 2:6-7). (If you happen to be reading this and you are not a Christian, please check out this video and consider the wonderful message of the gospel). Christians give their ultimate allegiance to Jesus and seek to be his disciple (to be like him, to obey him, to love him). This allegiance trumps personal preference, one’s family values, and one’s culture. A Christian strives to view life through the lens of Scripture, believing the Bible to be God’s word which informs of us about the truth of who God is, who we are, and of what reality consists.

The Bible teaches that a Christian has a new identity (2 Cor 5:17) as a part of God’s new creation. It also teaches that we have a new citizenship (Phil 3:20) as members of God’s kingdom. A Christian does not find her or his ultimate home on this earth, but views life as an exile or pilgrim here (1 Peter 2:11), waiting for king Jesus to return (Titus 2:11-14). In the meantime, a Christian seeks to do good works in this world (Eph 2:10), make disciples of Jesus Christ (Matt 28:18-20), and pursue a life of holiness and love as Holy Spirit filled members of God’s family (John 1:12-13) and as the light and salt of this world (Matt 5:13-16).

Every regional setting brings unique challenges to living for Christ. A simple read through the New Testament makes this abundantly clear—whether it is the 7 churches in 7 cities that John addresses in Revelation 2-3, or the situations persecuted Christians faced who received Peter’s letters, or the various challenges the recipients of Paul’s letters had to endure (temptation to legalism in Galatia, idleness in Thessalonica, contentious false teachers in Ephesus or Crete), every place and time brings unique challenges to those who want to live whole-heartedly for Christ. In addition to our battle with sin, being drawn away by our fallen nature, and the devil/demonic oppression that assaults our souls, a Christian will be tempted to compromise in his/her faith through the unique pressures and unbiblical ideologies rooted in his/her particular cultural setting.

So, what is it like to live as a Christian in Naperville? This is what we’ll consider in the following blog posts. As I have lived and pastored here for the past 4 years (Cross of Christ Fellowship, a church in downtown Naperville), I have found that living in Naperville brings with it particular blessings and challenges to living out one’s faith in Christ. In the next post, I’ll speak about some of the ways living here has been beneficial to living out my faith in Christ. Then, we’ll think about some of the challenges living here brings to following Christ. And finally, we’ll consider how having our identity in Christ and keeping our eyes on the city of God is the way forward, regardless of where we live.

[1] If you’re unfamiliar with Naperville, let me give you a brief snapshot. Naperville is a western suburb of Chicago and has a population of nearly 148,000 people. The majority of Naperville is white (roughly 80%, but there is a larger number of Indian and Chinese residents as well about 15% are Indian and Chinese). It is a highly educated (much higher than the national average), and affluent (median home price is near $350k and median home income is nearly double the national average) city filled with extremely driven individuals and families. It has a very low crime rate and is incredibly safe. Over the years, it has consistently been voted one of the best places to live in all of America. It has beautiful parks, amazing restaurants, and very good public schools.

[2] I’ve lived in Illinois since 2009 and in Naperville since 2014. I’m a pastor of Cross of Christ Fellowship, a church plant in downtown Naperville.

Christian, husband of Rach, Church Planter,musician,
  1. Amy Perino Reply

    I am so glad your blog came across my radar! I believe God put it here for me to see. I think that I have challenges living the suburbia lifestyle and being a follower of Christ so it will be interesting to follow your blog.

    • Tom Schmidt Reply

      Thanks Amy!

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