Bloom Where GOD Plants You... Part 2

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

I have heard hundreds of sermons on understanding God's will for my life. After all, I am a preacher's kid and have been active in Christian work most of my adult life. Early on I became convinced of the importance of seeking God's will in selecting the right college, career, church, spouse, and dozens of other important life choices. Try as I may, however, I cannot remember hearing a sermon on God's will regarding the location of my home.

Perhaps there is silence on this matter because location has a neutral value in God's economy. Maybe it just doesn't matter. Or is it because our homes are our sacred cows that no one dare touch? Our careful avoidance of the subject causes me to suspect the latter. Common sense tells us to protect our families and our investments from people of detrimental influence.

Yet God's desirability quotient seems weighted towards becoming neighbors to people in need.

In fact, Jesus, giving the same weight to loving one's neighbor as to loving God, described for us those who needed neighbors - the ill-clothed, the hungry, the homeless stranger, the wounded, and the broken. Locating our homes in places protected from the sight of these "lesser ones" neither relieves their plight now relieves us of our responsibility to be neighbors to them. What is more sobering is that our withdrawal from neighbors in need causes schools to decline, real estate to depreciate, crime to spread, hope to dwindle, communities to collapse, and despair to reign. What good is salt, Jesus said, if it doesn't preserve or season? Or light, if it is safely shielded from the darkness it is meant to dispel?

As the disruptive words of our Lord have penetrated my value system, I have become persuaded that location, location, and location are indeed the critical selection criteria for those who desire to bloom where God wants to plant them. And the underlying values of those who perceive the kingdom will be disclosed in the kind of questions they ask. What community lacks the talents and treasures that have been entrusted to us? What school is most in need of the educational and moral values that our family brings? What neighborhood will the unique leaven of our lives cause to rise? Location, perhaps more than any other decision, disturbs the delicate balance we have tried to achieve between mammon and spirit. In this issue, the American dream collides with the vision of God's kingdom here on earth, exposing them to be as different from each other as darkness and light. Convenience, security, and status are confronted by self-sacrifice, downward mobility, and obedience. The instinct to save one's own life stares at the cross. It is a dangerous prayer Jesus taught his followers to pray - "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

This article is an excerpt from a chapter written by Robert Lupton in the book Restoring At Risk CommunitiesRobert is the founder of FCS ministries in Atlanta and has more than 30 years experience in urban ministry.

Justice, PovertyPhilip Walkley