Sometimes someone says something and it triggers a fresh flow of thoughts. And those thoughts spark more ideas and more thoughts. I had one of those moments on Sunday morning when Paul Weston from Cambridge was speaking at The Belfrey’s 9am Congregation here in York. He was talking about the difference the Spirit of God makes, quoting John 14:23 where Jesus says that ‘we will come to you and make our home in you’. And it got me thinking about home.
Homes are important
– Homes are places of rest.
To rest from the hustle and bustle of life. If you have family – especially small children – home doesn’t always feel like a place of rest! It’s busy. Crazy. All go. With five children, I know something of that. But that can be good too, because home is family space.
– Homes are places to love.
Family members should feel ‘at home’ in the home. It should be a place where they feel they belong and are included and loved. It should be a place where tough conversations can be had about things that are wrong or need changing. Homes should be places of kind honesty and integrity and love. That’s why Mother Theresa was right when she said: ‘Love begins at home. Love begins by taking care of the closest ones, the ones at home.’
– Homes are places to gather.
That’s particularly true at important times like birthdays and Christmas – which is why so many love the sentiment of Bing Crosby’s song ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’. Homes are where we gather for important family times. They are where we go to pay our respects when a loved-one dies, as well as places to celebrate the good times.
– Homes are places for friendship.
We eat in our homes. And we laugh. They’re places for entertaining and getting to know people. I was adding the figures up yesterday and reckon we’ve had around different 100 people through our home in last 10 days. Sam and I do that because it’s in the home that we can get to know people in a relaxed, relational way.
So homes are important.
Homes in the Bible
That’s why Jesus picks up ‘home’ in John 14 when he says that God wants to make a home in us. In me. In his people. This is about God dwelling with us. Living with us. Close to us. Making a home with us.
The same idea is picked up in Revelation 21, where John hears a voice from heaven describing the new heaven and new earth to come. The voice says (v3): ‘Look! God’s dwelling-place – God’s home – is now among the people, & he will dwell with them.’ Which is sometimes translated ‘he will make a home with them’.
Similarly when Jesus met the dishonest tax-collector Zacchaeus (in Luke 19) he told him that he wanted to ‘come to his house’. Jesus wanted to get into his home.
Jesus did a lot of his best work in people’s homes. In the place where they were most relaxed. Most themselves. Jesus wanted to get into homes because he knew it was there that they were most themselves. Surely that’s one reason why a key test of leadership in the bible relates to how leaders are in their home (see 1 Tim 3). If you want to see what kind of leader someone really is, then go and observe them in their home!
God sent Jesus Christ so that people can know him not to be distant, but close. Not to be absent, but present. Here. Among us. Like sharing a home together. All this means that when people come to Christ it should feel like coming home. It should feel normal and natural. Like life is meant to be. And that’s often how people feel. I’ve heard a number of people say that when they turn to Jesus it’s just like that. It feels like ‘coming home’.
Jesus picks that up in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (in Lk 15), where the son goes away to seek fulfilment, but ends up finding that what he was really looking for, was back home.
Coming Home Today
This week the churches in York are praying and working so that many people come home as we have a special ‘More than Gold’ mission week. Come home to Jesus Christ. God has all sorts of people to bring home. Different ages. From different backgrounds, lifestyles and personalities. This is a time to be calling the lost ‘home’. And to be witnessing that God has done that for us, in bringing us home.
When I heard Paul on Sunday morning my mind went to a great proverb – Proverb 24:3-4:
‘By wisdom a house/home is built and through understanding it’s established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.’
There’s lots that could be said about those verses, but two key thoughts are this. 1) God wants his home to be filled. 2) He wants his home filled with rare and beautiful treasures. In fact that’s how God sees people: rare; unique; beautiful; attractive; lovely. Our city is full of people who are ‘rare and beautiful’ to God. And he wants his home full of such people.
As we reach out in mission this week, have in the back of your mind this fact: that God wants his home full of people. People he loves. People he sees as rare and beautiful treasures. So will you invite them back home? Will you pray them back home?
This is a time for many to be coming home.