The Pastor's Pen
Over the past several weeks, as we have been looking for a house that we could call our own, we have gone in out and out of many different places. We’ve looked at the features of each place: the number of rooms, the size, the location, the age, the neighborhood, and a number of other factors as we sought out the place from which we could serve in our ministry in Oroville. One day as we were looking at a place and walking through it, my wife turned to me and said, “I feel at home here.” At that point, we knew that we had better act quickly because the housing market is limited and competitive. Thankfully, in the Lord’s good providence, our offer on that house was accepted, and we have now begun the process of settling into the place that we will make our home. It is our prayer that the Lord will greatly bless what He has provided!
The house-hunting process caused us to reflect on the question: What is it that makes the place in which we live a “home”? Here are some thoughts that came to mind.
‘H’ stands for hospitality. That is something that is a lost art these days, but hospitality is an important element in turning a house into a home. Hospitality is welcoming another person into our living space to share life with us for a while. This could happen sharing a cup of coffee, playing a board game, having a meaningful conversation, studying the Bible, or even sharing a meal together. The early Christians practiced hospitality, often out of necessity as they faced dangers and challenges. They knew and understood the importance of Paul’s words: “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality” (Rom. 12:13). Today we tend to see our houses as a place to which we run and hide from life, but the Bible tells us that we are to practice hospitality. To practice means that hospitality is something that we are to do. Again, hospitality is the process of inviting people to enter into our living space and sharing it with them for a time, be that for an hour, an evening, or a weekend. In that sense, hospitality is a reflection of our Lord, who has shared His dwelling place and good things with us, and we are much richer because of it. So, let’s learn to share what we have with others in the practice of hospitality with one another and with those around us. Let them see and experience the love of Christ through time spent within our homes.
‘O’ stands for optimism. We like to be around people who are joyful, who are happy, who are peaceful. Optimistic people are those who trust in the Lord and who believe that He is guiding and leading them to fruitful lives. They look for good things to happen and recognize ways that God is at work all around us. Words of praise, hope, and expectation are on their lips, giving blessing to both the Lord and to those around them. If we are that way at home, we will create an environment that is attractive and will draw people to us. Optimistic people follow what Paul says in Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice.” This theme of hope and joy is found all throughout the Scriptures. “The joy of the Lord is our strength,” Nehemiah said to the people of God of his day (Neh. 8:10). So, let the Lord’s joy become yours as you look to Him and draw upon His strength. If our homes are a place where people feel at rest and at peace, and where they see we have hope, they will be drawn to us because our joyful optimism will be a testimony to our faith and trust in the Lord.
‘M’ stands for music. Music is, of course, a major part of our worship of the Lord. It is a vehicle that brings strength, hope, joy, and comfort to our daily lives. It is part of who we are as the people of God. We see examples all over the Scriptures of the importance of music. For example, “Sing to the Lord a new song” (Ps. 96:1); or, “Sing to the Lord a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts” (Ps. 33:3). Psalm 150 talks about the use of instruments in the worship of our Lord. Psalm 34:3 says that worship is a group activity: “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!” In our own home, we raised our children to have a love of music, because we wanted the fragrance of praise, joy, hope, and worship to permeate our family life and be a drawing card to our neighbors. If music and worship are a regular part of your life, whether you live in a family or alone, your home becomes an attractive place in which people will like being with you. We all are blessed by being around people who are quick to give thanks and who enjoy being with the Lord and with others. Music is a uniting glue that draws us together as human beings. So let our homes have the sound and rhythm of music. That will help turn our house into a home.
‘E’ stands for encouragement. You might add education or edification to this as well. We are called to teach and train one another in the ways of the Lord. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thess. 5:11). This training involves both words and actions, which can only be observed as people spend time with us. This includes encouragement to trust in the Lord, to seek the Lord, to praise the Lord, to pray to the Lord. In our edification of one another, we help where another is weak, we challenge when another is in error, we encourage when another is discouraged, we build up when another feels torn down. These things happen best in the context of close, loving relationships, and those relationships are often best built as we share life one with another. That sharing of life happens quicker as we open up our homes and invite others into our lives and activities.
I think you will agree with me that these fours things: hospitality, optimism, music, and edification, all find their basis and source in the Scriptures. You might even say that they are commandments given to us by God for our own well-being and for the building of strong families and strong believers. We are called to be home-builders and that will happen as we ourselves are practitioners of these four things. In these challenging days of anger, division, and disrespect toward people, what an opportunity we have to be agents of grace and truth to those around us. Therefore, let us go to the Lord, asking Him not only to be our refuge, but also to strengthen and lead each of us to turn the place in which we dwell into a HOME!