This Is My House, This Is My Home
Part 2- What is ‘Home’ in the context of Church
“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” Maya Angelou
This quest or ache for home comes from the fact that in the very beginning, in Genesis, mankind was ‘Home’ in the Garden of Eden. We were in perfect union with God and walked freely with Him, able to be completely ourselves.
But, as we all know, Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which began our separation from God, from our family, and home. What I never really understood until recently, is how Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the garden wasn’t an act of anger from a raging father, but more an act of protection and mercy.
Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which separated them from God. But there was also a Tree of Life. If after eating of the tree of good & evil Adam and Eve had then been allowed to eat from Tree of Life, they would have stayed in the garden and been separated from God forever. Eternal separation. God however, by expelling them, was protecting them from eating from the second tree, and in doing so was saying; ‘don’t worry, I am coming after you’. God then killed the animal and sewed their clothes together; this was an act of love, from a God of love.
The separation we face from God is often known as ‘The Great Divorce’. It is a picture of loved ones torn apart. When mankind fell, God didn’t just react to Satan and try to fix it. He had already slain the lamb before the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8). He already had a rescue plan in place before they even needed it. The whole narrative of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is the story of God pursuing mankind, and trying to bring them back home, after their tragic choice to move away from dependence on Him. It is a long, love story.
“God is at home, it’s we who have gone out for a walk.” Meister Eckhart
I love the story of the Prodigal Son. The fact that he had messed up so much, was broken, poor, had severed all relationships, yet his father, when he sees him coming, RUNS towards him, embraces him, and throws him a huge feast. This is how God feels when we come back to Him, and the Bible says there is a huge party in Heaven when people remember where there home is, who their family is, and come back into relationship with Jesus.
I believe that throughout my life, God has been actively pursuing me, and trying to bring me back home- into relationship with Him, and into His family the Church. I love the fact that my church Hillsong Church (Leatherhead) put such an emphasis on the idea of coming home. As you enter into church there are big signs saying ‘Welcome Home’ because they want people to feel like they are coming back to be with family, and for people who don’t yet know God; to find their way back to their spiritual home.
Home is supposed to be a safe haven. A place of security, well-being, family. A place to be cared for. Where strangers are always welcome. I love that my family’s home is like this. And I love that Church is like this. It is a place where you should see hope. A place where you can fulfil your God given potential, be fed, encouraged, and grown. A place where you can be completely yourself, no matter how broken you may look or feel. Home and Church should be a place where there is unconditional love and forgiveness. A tangible place that people are drawn to because of the love of Jesus that is there. I know this is true of my church, my family’s home and of any good home. Home is a place you should be able to un-mask, and be exactly who God made you to be.
The things that we have in our homes, the ornaments, furniture, and décor often say a lot about us. The things that we put in our homes, often show what we think is most important. For example some people have giant homes with many cars to show their wealth. Our surroundings influence our thoughts and shape our identity. This is true of the people and things we surround ourselves with. We should try and place ourselves in a Church family where you can be fully yourself, but also be around things and people who show who you might ideally be. So that you can grow more into the likeness of Jesus, surround yourself with Jesus like leaders. One thing I LOVE most about my church is not the worship, teaching (all of which are excellent) but the sense of family, and mostly the heart for others. They live beyond themselves. My church is dedicated to giving back, and support many amazing charities, which I love. This is the kind of person I want to be; someone who is blessed to be a blessing.
God has put eternity in our hearts. Our home should be a place that reminds people of that, and shows them, who they are, who they belong to, and what their inheritance is! It should un-ashamedly show people who Jesus is, and lead them to him. Church and Home should have an open door to those who don’t yet know Him. It is not an elite club, but a place where all are welcome. Where all can see Him and be drawn to Him.
You only have to watch the news for 5 minutes to see that we live in a broken, fatherless, lost generation. Events such as the London riots show that there are so many living day to day with no hope and no sense of future. I know I used to be the same! But Jesus is the Hope for Humanity. He offers transformation for the broken, inheritance for his children, healing for the hurting, family for the lonely, undeserved and scandalous grace and favour. Jesus wants to embrace the lost. And He wants his Church to do the same. To remind people of who they are, where they have come from, who their Maker is, and the value that is upon them. He wants wandering hearts to come home and to be free.
I pray that I never stop putting Jesus at the centre of what I call ‘Home’. Whether it is my church life, my work, my family, my friendships, my future relationships- my Home should be in Him, and I should be drawing people into His Home and His family, until the day we all return to our eternal home.
“My home is in Heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.” Billy Graham
Ephesians 2:19-22 The Message (MSG)
19-22That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.