Bloom where GOD plants you... Part 1

The following is an excerpt from a chapter written by Robert Lupton in the book Restoring At Risk Communities. Robert is the founder of FCS ministries in Atlanta and has more than 30 years experience in urban ministry.  We'll post part 2 of this excerpt next week.

"Bloom where you are planted," the preacher challenged us one Sunday morning.

It was an important sermon emphasizing the need for Christians to be salt and light in their everyday environments - in the home, the workplace, the neighborhood. I had heard similar messages before and had been moved by them.

This time, however, I felt more troubled than motivated. Something the minister was saying - or maybe not saying - was making me uneasy. "...where you are planted."

An assumption was being made that God, fate, heredity, or something other than personal choice had placed us where we were living.

Glancing around the congregation, I began to wonder by what coincidence most of my successful friends owned homes where they did - on the affluent north side of the city. Was it God who had decided that physicians and bankers should be planted among the wealthy? Were there not enormous health and economic needs on the south side of the city? I had the sinking feeling that where we were living had been determined by a long series of intentional personal choices that were primarily influenced by our earning power.

The unwanted thoughts continued to nag at me when I left the service. Later I got on the phone with a couple of real estate friends. They would know as well as anyone what priorities really affect a decision to purchase a home, "Location, location, location!" they spouted with well-practiced humor. "But what underlying values give a location positive or negative qualities?" I probed. Good schools, amenities, easy access to shopping, economic status, and image topped the list. Investment and proximity to work were also important considerations. Absent from the "location/desirability quotient" was proximity to church. Nearness to human need was clearly a detriment.

Then it dawned on me what had disturbed me about the sermon. A major question had been omitted. Neither the preacher nor the listeners were asking, "Why are you planted where you are?"   We were simply assuming that the American dream is the guiding standard by which God's people should locate themselves. It is expected that competent, connected Christians establish their homes as close as possible to the lush banks of the deep capital streams.

This article is part of a series.  View Part II here.