December 7, 2017 • Life for Leaders
Lift up your eyes and look about you:
All assemble and come to you;
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters are carried on the hip.
Then you will look and be radiant,
your heart will throb and swell with joy;
the wealth on the seas will be brought to you,
to you the riches of the nations will come.
Yes, this is the third day of my reflections on homecoming. I want to say a bit more on this subject because I think it is crucial for us. It’s also timely, given the approaching holidays.
For Israel, the homecoming of Jews who had been exiled throughout the world was a sign that God’s kingdom had dawned. The people yearned for the great homecoming of the future.
For many of us, our literal homecomings can be wonderful. But for others, they are fraught with difficulty and pain, as I discussed yesterday. When we gather with our families for the holidays, we sometimes realize how much we aren’t really “at home,” how much we ache for an acceptance we’ll never know with our natural relatives, how desperately we yearn for a real home in which we can feel fully at peace.
This yearning can point us to our heart’s true home. Ultimate acceptance, safety, and peace come when we make our home in Christ. In John 15 Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you” (15:4, KJV). The verb translated as “abide” means “to remain” or “to make our home in.” It’s related to the Greek word for “home,” just as “abide” is related to “abode.” Jesus invites us to make our home in him. When we come home to Jesus, we’ll experience safety and acceptance. In this context, we’ll be empowered to live fruitful lives.
So, if during the holiday season you find yourself literally at home, but still yearning for a deeper experience of truly being in a place of acceptance and safety, let that yearning lead you to Christ. In him, and in him alone, you’ll find the home that sustains, protects, and empowers.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Have you ever felt at home in Christ? When?
When you think of making your home in Christ, what comes to mind?
What helps you to feel at home in Christ?
Gracious God, thank you for the invitation to make my home in you. Thank you for reaching out to me, helping me to receive the good news in faith so that I might be truly at home in you.
Lord, there is no better “home” than you. I know this, but often forget it. Forgive me when I try to replace you with other “homes,” those that ultimately disappoint. Only when I am fully at home in you am I able to enjoy and contribute to the other “homes” of my life.
I pray today for those who are about to experience difficult homecomings. May they sense your presence in the midst of their confusion and pain. Bring healing to families, friendships, and wounded hearts. Let those who ache for home turn to you, so that they might find the safety and love that you alone can provide.
In the name of Jesus, my heart’s true home, Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: I am the Vine and You are the Branches (John 15)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.
Just another perspective on Homecoming:
When trouble finds it way to our hearth, holiday homecomings are strained to say the least. There are several approaches often taken to resolve the conflicts. Some, put the issues in the corner as if for those few days or hours the problem is placed in a “quiet time.” On the surface, there seems to be no hint of any friction, hurt feelings or sarcasm. Visiting friends might never guess the turmoil bubbling just below the surface. Even the parties involved accept the new temporary rules and a Norman Rockwell holiday plays out on a shaky stage.
Others choose to just ignore the accused offender during the celebration. Neither party talks to or inter-reacts with their respective accused offenders. This, however, makes for the most of uncomfortable celebration for all in attendance. The warring factors trip about with their huge synthetic smiles and appear to be so joy-filled even though the youngest family member can sense the volcanic rumblings and fear the eruption is near.
Another way to handle all the contention is just not to show up. Some send their condolences and provide an elaborate excuse as to their being a no-show, but every family member can see through it as the clear glass wall it is. The end result is those in attendance feel insulted as well as those who are embroiled in the flap, and the true reason for the celebration never brings about the family bonding for which these gatherings are so famous. A second-hand side-effect can even include dividing the gathering into teams that choose sides in the fracas; now what was once just a misunderstanding has evolved into a real Hatfield/McCoy feud.
There are those who might suggest that our real home is with Jesus so these temporary soirées should be viewed as something to be tolerated while we feel the security of a soon to come heavenly home that will always welcome and love us.
This surly is true, Jesus is just that kind of home; the issue is that His home is for us ALL. Both us and the ones who we might consider the offenders. Furthermore, joining in the celebration with the idea Jesus is my real home, not this holiday gathering, robs us all of the joy God intended for our family festivities.
It is an accepted fact that we have a home with God, but God put us here with the family we have, warts and all, because he wants us to live out our NOW moments with joy and camaraderie. Our human family is vital to our social and Spiritual survival and attendance to any and all wounds is a priority that can’t be postponed.
The individuals involved, for their sake and the sake of the entire family, must repair the rupture. The mere fact that Jesus is our home and both sides know it, is the building block for restitution. Remember God created that brother, sister, mother daughter, you are so set against, and He loves BOTH of you equally and He does so UNCONDITIONALLY.
It is my contention the heaven we spend so much time looking forward to just might begin to become a reality before we pass from this stage of life.
When it comes to family squabbles, our only price for peace is to swallow a bit of pride, forgive an insult and give others what Jesus gives us every day of our lives; grace, mercy, unconditional love and the eternal promise to never leave us.