Friday, November 21, 2008

Week II -- Day V -- Making a House a Home -- Outpost of Heaven

An outpost of heaven...

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. Phil. 3:19-21

As keepers of our home, it's so easy to get caught up in our present duties that we forget the real Christian's true home is not on this earth, but in heaven. Our homes are, or should be, an outpost or colony of heaven on earth.

In one sense, the Kingdom of Heaven has already come to us. Paul urges Christians to give thanks "to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Col. 1:12-13. Jesus identified part of his kingdom with the church he would establish on the Day of Pentecost. This came true when Peter preached the first sermon about how to become a Christian, using the keys that Jesus had given him to open up the door to entrance to the kingdom. See Matthew 16:13-17 and Acts Chapter Two. Jesus also identified his Kingdom with the rule of God in the hearts of men. "Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there! For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."

In another sense, we are still waiting for the fulfillment of the Kingdom of Heaven. "Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. I Cor. 15:24." See also Revelation Chapter 21.

In a way, followers of Jesus are a colony of heaven on this earth, here to be ambassadors for the true Kingdom. While we care for this earth and its citizens, we long for the day when we will be truly at home, face to face with our Holy and Beloved King. Imagine a U.S. ambassador who is sent to help a poor and war-torn country. He may deeply love the people there, and he does his best to help them. Yet, he is not a citizen of this war-torn country. He is an American, subject to the laws of the U.S., and representing its interests. He may even feel homesick for the U.S. from time to time. We could think of ourselves as being in a similar situation. We are living in a world that rightfully belongs to God, but in which sin is waging a terrible war. We are here to be Ambassadors of the true King, pointing people to the true path of peace. Yet, we are not citizens of the rebellious, sinful kingdom that pervades our world. We are citizens of the heavenly kingdom, subject to its laws, and representing heaven's interests. At times, when confronted with the sorrows of this world, we may become a bit wistful. I think that's a sort of homesickness for heaven. It's also a gift that drives us to seek God even more in prayer and in the study of his word.

Paul said, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But, I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better, yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake."

The true Christian has great joy now. She has fellowship with God; fellowship with other Christians; and fruitful labor to perform out of love for her Lord. Her life now has meaning, purpose, and beauty. Yet, she also looks forward to the complete joy that will come when Jesus comes again. She is happy to be a citizen of the kingdom of heaven.

So, in making our houses feel like homes, the most important thing we can do, imho, is to put our treasure in heaven. "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:20-22.

This is a verse that many of us have been familiar with since childhood. Sometimes, I can be so familiar with it that I don't think about it deeply enough. Where is my treasure, really? Some of the fears that have popped into my mind regarding the economy and political situation have made me see how much hope I was putting into a secure economy, rather than in the Lord's provision.

An exhaustive study of what it means to put our treasure in the kingdom of heaven versus the worldly kingdom is beyond the scope of both this post and my ability to write about the subject. But, let's think about a few things the keeper at home can do to live in her home as an outpost of heaven.

1) We can conduct ourselves in our homes and everywhere we go as citizens of heaven. One place to start is by meditating on the beatitudes and seeking to live them out. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5. What if everyone of us in a home or a neighborhood or a church conducted ourselves in this way? Wouldn't that be...well... heavenly?
2) We can align our values with God's values. This may mean re-thinking some of our most cherished beliefs and desires. Look what Jesus said to some religious leaders, who had high standing in their community: "He said to them, 'You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight.'" Luke 16:15. We need to be wary of just drifting along with the world, with religious tradition, or with every inclination of our own hearts. We need to make prayerful choices that are informed by God's word. Sometimes, it's a struggle in prayer to give up our ideas, especially when they look easier to us than God's path does at the moment. But, oh, how happy our hearts are when we do get them in harmony with God's will.
3) We can enjoy an intimate relationship with our Father! What wonderful grace it is that, for the true Christian, Jesus and His Father along with the Spirit make their home in our hearts! "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." John 14:21. "Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me."

For your home economic book, outline Acts Chapters I and II

What platters, serving utensils, cloths, etc., will you need to serve Thanksgiving dinner or to take food to a Thanksgiving dinner at someone else's house? Are these things clean and ready? What about preparations for visiting family? I'm washing quilts and sheets today. I need to get out the silver polish soon!

For your book of days: Here are some questions to jog your thinking for journaling: What does it look like outside your window? What scents do you smell in your home? What gave you special pleasure in keeping your home this week. Read Revelation 21 and write down what you think heaven will be like.

1 comment:

Pauline said...

Hello Elizabeth

I just wanted to post the link to my home economics project week 2 day 5 here... I have finally done it

and I have to tell you you that God's timing is amazing!!! If you read my post from the day before I was questioning my ability to actually DO my job at home based on your post and then when I read it today and completed the suggested readings from Acts I was "shown" the answer and reminded of my home being an outpost of heaven and that He would give me all I need to do that here on earth- to fulfill the role He has given me- and that He would take care of everything else.

So THANK YOU so very much again for your blog... and my apologies for taking so long to get to this post... but His timing truly is PERFECT.

Blessings in Christ