Home Sweet Home: The Center For Christian Ministry
- Barry R. Leventhal, Ph.D. <i>Two Becoming One</i>
- 2004 3 Mar
The Home in the New Testament
In the New Testament the home was the center for all Christian ministry. It's where the house churches met. It was the center of Christian fellowship and even worship. It's the place where the church leaders met to strategize and pray. It was a haven for those in need. And, of course, it was where family life was nurtured and enjoyed.
It was also a place of Christian outreach. In fact, a man could not be chosen as a church leader if he wasn't committed to Christian hospitality (1 Tim. 3:2).
None of this should be surprising. For one of the places where the Lord Jesus Himself centered His ministry was in the home: His table fellowship, His teaching, His healing, His outreach, His confrontation, etc. The New Testament knows nothing of an open heart without an ensuing open home. One of the best living apologetics for the Christian faith is the Christian home sweet home.
The Modern Christian Home
But somehow we've lost this uniquely Christian commitment. Most of our homes are not havens for the needy or outposts for the lost. Instead, they have become fortresses to protect us from the evil world for whom Christ died.
We retreat into our fortress and pull up the drawbridge, leaving the enemies on the outside to fight their way across the mote and hopefully into our protected prisons-assuming, of course, that they really want in!
Our attitude seems to be, "If they want to come in, let them come to us-and then, only after we have carefully screened them for all contagious diseases. After all, it's my fortress. I built it. I paid for it. Why should I let them in anyway? I have the right to build a bigger and better house-and then to really enjoy it, don't I? Besides, after a long, hard day at work, I have earned the right to settle down in my castle and steel away from the world. I deserve it. Isn't it my right to privacy?" No, it's not your right. The only right we have as Christians is to live under the lordship of Jesus Christ Himself!
So maybe we've really missed the point. For when we analyze it carefully, from God's point of view, this whole fortress mentality comes tumbling down. After all, it's really not my home at all. Yes, I may have built it. And I may have certainly paid for it. But the truth is, God gave me the job. He continues to give me the ability to perform the job (e.g., the skills, the health, the favor with my employers and/or employees, etc.). So in reality, like everything else in my life, God owns it all! It's all a gift from Him. Therefore, I am not the owner of anything. Rather, I am a steward of everything.
So the real question then is not, "What can I do with my house?" But rather, "What should I do with His home?" In other words, "How can I make the Lord's home a home sweet home for others? How can I make use of His ability in my hospitality?"
Marriage Ministry in the Home
When our homes lose their distinctive sense of calling and mission, many marriages look only inward instead of outward. Instead of gazing up at the stars we find ourselves staring at our own belly buttons. On the other hand, when a couple recaptures a vision for ministry in their home, they find themselves bonding in ways they never thought of.
Giving to others, especially in our own homes, focuses us on others and anchors us to God's grace and mercy. Our own problems seem small when we've invited hurting people into our homes. When we as a couple commit ourselves to building relational bridges to our friends, neighbors, and colleagues, God steps into our marriage in new and exciting ways. There is no greater joy than seeing God use us in the lives of others. As someone has said, "When love is felt, the message is heard."
A loving marriage, in loving home, is the best classroom for God's saving message of grace and truth.
You see, a house is just a place where Christians live. But a home is where Jesus reigns as Lord and King! And when we open our hearts and our homes to the Lord's special guests, He is overjoyed and honored, and we are the ones who are blessed with a truly home sweet home.
When you give a [special] luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be paid at the resurrection of the righteous (Luke 14:12-14).
Your Own Marriage Ministry in the Home
In light of God's calling to marriage ministry your own home, prayerfully consider the following questions:
1. Who has served you in their home in your own past journey in the faith? Why not thank God for them right now. Maybe you should write them a short note or e-mail them, thanking them for their Christian hospitality and ministry. It would probably be a real encouragement to them, don't you think?
2. How have you used your own home for ministry in the last six months? How do you think God wants to use your home for ministry in the next six months? Why not pray about this together right now.
3. What specific individuals, Christian and non-Christian, do you think God wants you to invite into your home in the next six months? When do you think it would be a good time to invite them? Again, why not pray about this right now. Remember: God desires to use your marriage, in your home, to reflect His glory to the world.
© 2003 Christian Family Life
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