A place to call home

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Does Scripture address the concept?

Even those of us who grew up in transition or without a traditional home still understand the idealized concept of a home.

Home is a place to belong, a place to live, and a place to be safe. Our culture says “Home is where the heart is.” Home is a place where the soul finds respite.

Yet, in Scripture, the concept of home is rarely discussed directly. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to identify such a concept in Scripture at all. Houses are discussed. Fathers, mothers, sons and daughters are spoken of. But the concept of home, that’s a more modern abstraction. However, when Scripture speaks about similar concepts, it does so through concrete terms that might strike many of us as familiar.

In the Old Testament, home is a place to return to after living elsewhere (Gen. 30:25). Returning home is deferred in the conquest of the Promised Land until all the tribes had received their inheritance of land (Num. 32:18). Soldiers were not to go to war if newly married. They were instructed to stay home and take joy in their new bride (Deut. 24:5). Home is where one returns after a battle (1 Sam. 18:6). In Nehemiah 4:14, the people were instructed to fight for their families and their homes. These and many similar examples show us an Old Testament concept that is similar to our own idealized concept of home.

– Read the Scripture passages referenced in this article for more on the biblical concept of home.

– Volunteer for a Salvation Army program that provides home and more at volunteer.usawest.org

At the same time, one author revealed to us a concept of an eternal home. In Ecclesiastes 12:1-7, the writer paints a picture with metaphor about the end of life: “…man is going to his eternal home” (12:5). We can see in the Old Testament that home can be a spiritual concept as well, the final resting place of humanity.

In the New Testament, home has many of the same physical concepts as the Old Testament and our modern contexts. But the concept of home takes an unexpected turn in the teachings of Jesus.

In Luke 9:57-62, Jesus proclaims to those who follow him that “the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (9:58). Does Jesus have a home?

When someone asks to first go bury a father, Jesus replies with an unexpected answer, to let the dead bury the dead. Another person wishes to go say goodbye at his home. Jesus replies that no one who puts hand to plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God. In Luke 14:26, Jesus explains to a crowd that anyone who would follow after him must hate (miseō) his mother and father, wife and children, and brothers and sisters. This has been interpreted by Christians through history as hyperbole or simply a contrast, that we “hate” our family in comparison to how much we love, follow and adore Jesus.

But I wonder if Jesus’ teaching in these instances is to show us a new spiritual reality regarding our families and our homes. Perhaps in de-emphasizing our natural families in the world, Jesus makes room for the spiritual family and the spiritual home we now have in Christ.

Romans 8:14-15 says: For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba!”

Ephesians 1:4-6 says: In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

Colossians 1:13-14 says: He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Our final home, our final family, is made up of the people of God bound together in the Spirit. When we meet, Jesus is there (Matt. 18:20), and when Christ returns we will live together forever in our eternal home, the kingdom of God.

“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’

And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true’” (Rev. 21:2-5).

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Does Bible scripture address the concept of home? Caring explores.
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