January 07, 2022 JP Sibley

What do you love?

What do you love?

Downtown Orangeburg

“What do you love about Orangeburg?” As I’ve been out in the community meeting with a variety of people from different backgrounds, this is the question I’ve been asking. It’s a question designed to direct the conversation toward discovering the assets of this small town. What is good? Where do you like to go? What do you like to do? I’ve been asking, “What do you love about Orangeburg?”.


“Nothing.”


That is the most common answer I receive.


Orangeburg, like many smaller towns nationwide, is being eclipsed by the better schools, better jobs, and better amenities of larger cities. College-and-career-bound young people often leave and never return. It is a community stuck in negativity. There is nothing good, according to many.


And you know what? This is a great thing!


Jesus was preaching to a crowd of backcountry and small-town people in rural Galilee when he spoke those famous words: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Notice what he doesn’t say. He doesn’t tell them that their blessing is waiting just around the corner. He doesn’t tell them, “Come on down and receive your blessing.” No. He says, “Blessed ARE the poor in spirit. For theirs IS the kingdom of heaven.” He doesn’t try to sell them the power of positive thinking or invite them to a free seminar on “10 steps to go from Zero to Hero.” He simply declares them blessed.


As I continue to interact with the palpable poverty of spirit in Orangeburg… and yes, even begin to feel it myself… I am holding onto Jesus’ words of grace. We ARE blessed. The healthy do not need a doctor, but the sick do. We are in a position of blessing because we are in a posture of need.


May the Lord Jesus himself meet us in our poverty. May he bring sons and daughters into his heavenly kingdom by his grace through faith in his work on the cross.


“What do you love about Orangeburg?”


Nothing. Nothing but Jesus. He is all we need.


(Originally published March 19th, 2015)