Where are you ‘at home?’ I love my house because it is not just the place where I go to sleep, it is my refuge, where I can relax, a place that is comfortable. When I traveled beyond the borders of the United States, it was always a wonderful thing to arrive back in the country where I spoke the language, where I found food that was familiar to my palate – yes, home! The plight of those who are ‘homeless’ breaks my heart whatever the reason. They live without the warmth and security I take for granted in my life.
Did you know that the writers of the New Testament consistently speak of a place other than this present world as Christian’s true home?
Peter urges us to live as ‘aliens and strangers in this present world.’ (1 Peter 2) Paul says our ‘citizenship is in heaven.’ The fuller text says this – “For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” (Philippians 3:18-21, NIV)
Do you find that challenging? The familiar can tempt us to settle down, especially when life is rich with blessings and comfort. Yes, we can get very much ‘at home’ in this world.
Paul uses a metaphor designed to shock us to grab our attention when he says that we can substitute our gut for God! Of those Christians who make this world their home, he says their ‘god is their stomach.’ It is possible to lose any real desire for spiritual things, preferring instead to feed the appetites of the body without restraint, with such intensity that food, sex, pleasure, and comfort become a god! Inevitably, that worship of the body and its desires lead to a lesser life than the Lord desires of us. Paul says that such a life turn people into ‘enemies of the cross of Christ.’ The text warns of turning into people who will ‘glory in their shame.’ Instead of finding joy and fulfillment in Christ and service, they celebrate their earthy nature. It’s not a pretty picture.
A subtle perversion of Christianity has crept into the Church in which God exists to serve ‘my needs’ instead me existing to love and serve Him! Those who are too much ‘at home’ in this present world, pray only ‘bless me’ prayers – “Lord, make me richer, happier, healthier. Don’t ask much of me, just give me, fill me, comfort me.” There is nothing wrong with asking God to meet our needs, dear friend. But, if all we do is whine for more, constantly asking for ease and comfort, like the ancient Israelites in the Exodus, we will find ourselves far from the true life of Christ, worshipping the belly god!
But … true heavenly citizens are attuned to Heaven, guided by hope, living fully under the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ! What results is a ‘transformed life’ which will ultimately lead to a total change from a dying temporal body to an eternal glorious one! Those who love the stomach god will be destroyed by their ‘worship.’ Those who love Christ Jesus will find an amazing eternal life that is beyond our human imagination. Jesus is, for us, the true Bread of Life, satisfying our deepest need, inviting us to be at home in Him. The paradox is this – those who live as citizens of Heaven, whose hope is settled on the grace of God and His love, find the richest existence in this present world. They know a ‘peace that passes human understanding.’
So, what are the implication of this fact?
Paul says “Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!” (Philippians 4:1, NIV) Our heavenly passport creates an expectation of life from which we gain the ability to ‘stand firm’ through all the ups and downs that are part of the journey from the Cross to the Crown. Let’s live as citizens of Heaven, even now, in this ‘foreign land’ of the present world.
Here is a word from the Word – with promise and challenge. “For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:18-22, NIV)
Home Where I Belong
(An old Southern Gospel song! Enjoy)
They say that heaven’s pretty
And livin’ here is too
But if they said that I would have
To choose between the two
I’d go home goin’ home
Where I belong
While I’m here I’ll serve Him gladly
Sing Him all these songs
I’m here but not for long
Sometimes when I’m dreamin’
It comes as no surprise
That if you’ll look you’ll see
The homesick feelin’ in my eyes
I’m goin’ home I’m goin’ home
Where I belong
When I’m feelin’ lonely
And when I’m feelin’ blue
It’s such a joy to know
That I am only passin’ through
I’m headed home I’m goin’ home
Where I belong
One day I’ll be sleepin’
When death knocks on my door
And I’ll awake to find
That I’m not homesick anymore
‘Cause I’ll be home I’ll be home
Where I belong
Pat Terry © 1976 Curb Word Music (Admin. by WC Music Corp.)
CCLI License # 810055