Personal preference or choice commonly seems to determine where we decide to live. God may call us to do ministry in another city or even another country, but to a specific neighborhood, would He really do that? Consider for a minute the gated communities missionaries often occupy or how Christians often talk when they are in the process choosing a neighborhood to buy a house in. Comfort and safety is probably high up on the list of priories. In some ways, choice, then, trumps calling!
In the current issue of Street + Steeple*, our quarterly magazine, we wrestle with the implications of returning to a biblical theology of place. Location seems to be something that is on God's heart. God does not call us to comfortable lives. Instead he promises to comfort us in the midst of afflictions. As his redemptive purposes unfold the characters of the bible are often called to participate in a certain place and time. They are called to relocate so that they can be both "with" and "for" the people God wants them to minister to. As they do, they play a small but crucial part in carrying out God's plan. God, calls them to enter into his plan, it's not the other way around.
Think about Abraham who was called to leave the comfort of his homeland and go somewhere else. Somewhere strange to him. Somewhere without the comfort and familiarity of his home culture, his landmarks, his childhood memories, his friends, peers. He didn't even know where he was to relocate when he embarked. But he was told, God would bless him there, and through him others would be blessed too. We could also consider Jacob, Daniel, and Ruth.
At the risk of blowing this idea way up, the relocation of Jesus should be considered as well. Eugene Peterson's Message poignantly reads, "The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood." (John 1:14). Talk about leaving comfort and responding to calling.
Could it be that we are to follow these examples today; to relocate and live into the blessing of a restored relationship with God through Jesus, in order to bless those who live in the homes and apartments around us?
Consider Shaine Claiborne's haunting response to Jesus' statement "The poor will always be with you. He simply asks, "Are they? Are they with you?" That raises the question, what would it look like for us to be more call oriented concerning where we spend most of our lives? Or, in other words, if calling trumps choice, where do you think God would have you live specifically?
Seriously, what do you think about these musings?