As I study the Bible, something keeps popping up. In fact, no matter what I'm doing, the same theme seems to come to the front. It's one of the basic tenets of business, and a lot of companies seem to want to build the concept into their advertising. What am I talking about?
Location, location, location.
How many times have you heard that statement? Just off the top of my head, here are some slogans that reference the idea of location.
“When you're here, you're family.”
“Head for the border.”
“Where dreams come home.”
“A very good place to be.”
You get the picture. The idea of location being important is as old as humanity. From the very beginning, God prepared a place for His people. The problem is that God's people always managed to mess things up and become displaced from the land He had given them – either by force or by choice.
First, there was the Garden of Eden. God created a beautiful place and set Adam and Eve over it to worship and serve Him through their care-taking of the Garden. Obviously, that didn't last. Even though God had given Adam and Eve dominion over all creation (including serpents), they allowed themselves to be tricked into sin. And as a result, they were evicted from the Garden, forced to make a home in the wilderness instead.
Soon after, God gave Abraham the land of Canaan. Now, think back through what you know of Biblical history. How many times did Abraham's descendants leave The Promised Land?
The first time was just two generations later. Abraham's grandson Jacob and family left after some of his sons sold another into slavery. Now, I know what you're thinking. “God used those circumstances to save His people from starvation during the seven years of famine.” Yes, He did. The problem came from His people getting comfortable in Egypt and settling down instead of returning to their Land once the famine ended. The result? 400 years later, they're still in Egypt, and now they're slaves.
Fast forward a few hundred more years. The Israelites have once again fallen away from God, and now they have been carried away captive to Babylon. Seventy years go by, and finally the new king allows them to return to their Land. Guess what? Less than five percent of God's people leave Babylon to return to The Promised Land.
Now, most Christians (myself included) have a tendency to look at the Israelites in Babylon and wonder why in the world they would want to stay in Babylon instead of going home. Looking back across 2500 years, it's easy to ask why a group of people would choose to settle, to, in effect say to God, “Yes, I know You gave us this Land, I know You made us this promise, but I think I'll just stay put.”
But, how often do we do the same thing? The Israelites had, for the most part, made a decent life for themselves in Babylon. They were comfortable. God had blessed them. Looking through their eyes, I'm sure it was really easy to say, “God is blessing us here. Most of us are here, so God must be here, too. After all, if he didn't want us to stay, would He have given us successful businesses and comfortable houses?”
Don't we do the same thing? It's really easy to sit here in a nice, cozy recliner and make judgments about how someone else should have followed God. The question is, have I gotten comfortable and assumed that God must be happy with me just the way I am since He's blessing me?
The problem that keeps hitting me in the head is that most of the people in the Bible who were living in God's will were FAR from comfortable. I read about prison, stoning, beatings, mockery, scorn, shipwreck... you get the picture.
There aren't a lot of recliners in Paul's story. Or Peter's. Or John's.
Maybe it's time to rethink.