Words From Pastor Mark – 7/14

Bloom where you are planted. . .

A number of years ago there was a statement that was popular. It was “bloom where you are planted”. There were books and articles and a 7 step program developed to help you to bloom. Some persons took the admonition to heart and did bloom but most just went about their life complaining, whining and saying that life just was not fair.

Bloom where you are planted does not appear in the Bible. . . but I believe we could look to I Corinthians 7: 20 – 24.  

The great reformer Martin Luther used this text to emphasize that every person has a calling from God. In Luther’s day, “earthly” work was considered inferior to the “heavenly” work of priests, monks, and nuns. For Luther, “the works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous they may be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic laborer in the field or the woman going about her household tasks.”

Many people still believe this even though in the Methodist tradition we believe in the “priesthood of all believers”. While we say we believe it we still do not act it out in our faith communities very well. Let’s take a minute and look at our lives. If the majority of our work-life remains in front of us, we may think following God completely means we should and would consider full-time ministry. Paul would surely say, “Not so!” Look carefully at three principles Paul teaches in this section that shape God’s call on our lives. God’s call involves being in the right place, living by the right priorities, and having the right perspective.

The right place. Paul’s basic principle is simple. God calls you to the place you already inhabit; we are to remain in the condition in which we were called (7:20). Paul mentions two specific conditions, circumcision and slavery, but his point is broader. In whatever condition you were called, don’t make changing the conditions of your life your first priority. The “condition” Paul addresses in this chapter of Corinthians is marital status, but his brief allusion to circumcision and slavery suggests he has a variety of “conditions” in mind. I recall reading a wedding homily one time that had a great quote: “A good marriage is not so much finding the right person as being the right person.” God’s call is to bloom where we are planted.

The right priorities. In 7:19, Paul uses hyperbole to emphasize getting our priorities right. One’s condition (in this instance, circumcision) is nothing; obedience to God is everything. Again, the Corinthian believers were mistakenly confusing spirituality with their marital or social status. Paul’s counsel was to “obey the commandments of God in everything” (7:19).

The right perspective. Finally, Paul goes on to encourage a larger perspective by noting the great reversal that faith in Christ makes: “Whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ” (7:22).

This powerful reversal reminds us that life conditions do not define us. Our work does not define us, our health status does not define us, our geographical location does not define us, even our marital status does not define us. Our standing with God defines us. In whatever condition we find ourselves, we are God’s servants and God’s beloved children. This identity can never be taken from us.

Now let me talk about Michael. He is our continuing acolyte and is faithful to be at church every Sunday to light the candles. He takes the job very seriously. Michael lives in a group home and is transported by a care giver to church each Sunday. A few weeks ago Michael began to bring with him his friend Kenny who moved into the group home with him. A just a few weeks ago he brought many of the other person who live with him. He bloomed where he was planted and used that place to bring persons to church.

SOOOOO. . . are we using where God has planted us to make a difference?

Pastor Mark

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