Monday, October 13, 2014

The Joy of Home

I mentioned on the church blog that Adam preached about the Old Testament concept of "Jubilee." I'll give you the verses here, so you can understand what this event gave to ancient Israelites, practically:  "When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a sabbath to the LORD. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the LORD; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard."

Fascinating! My environmentally-conscious friends should like these verses! God's consideration for the land -- for its rest and its honor -- is significant, and the humans must concede to its need for rest from our constant use of it. In Biblical terms, the sabbath year is holy, the land is holy, and the heavenly land that it represents is very holy.

After seven sabbath years -- forty-nine years -- the Israelites had a year of Jubilee, a wonderful year. This 50th year could be defined by one exhilarating term:  Freedom!! If you were a slave, you were freed. If you had debts, they were forgiven. If you'd lost your family land, you got it back. In God's economy, everyone had a home. Everyone. And once again, you were free from doing any work on the land -- free from work, for an entire year!

Sounds a little bit like heaven, doesn't it?

Don't we all want the security of a home? I know I do. God's ideal for His people is to have a secure home, a home and land that cannot be taken away. (He made us humans, and He knows we're designed to live on soil, in houses.) Most of the people I know do own homes, or are well on their way to owning a home outright. It's odd ... but often people in full-time ministry do not have that simple blessing, that gift that was the right of every Israelite -- every child of God -- years ago. Missionaries, pastors, Christian school workers, Christian camp workers -- often they move from ministry to ministry, unable to purchase a home. Often housing is provided by the ministry (to have them live on the campus, or to keep costs down, or to help pad an otherwise low salary). A pastor who lives in a manse as part of his salary for decades will never be able to afford mortgage payments. A missionary who lives overseas is even less likely to afford a home in the U.S.
The Pope's home
What do we make of this? How do I struggle my way through the fact that I'm 51 years old, and will likely never own a home? Where will I live in old age? What security do I have? When you consider the Christian workers you know, think about these things. It's important. I used to grumble in myself over this situation, but lately I have taken great comfort in the words of Jesus, recorded three times in the gospels:

"Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last, first." (Mark 10)
Jimmy Swaggart's home
Sobering words. Think of the missionaries who have left dear families, given up all hope of a home or property. Sent their children overseas for school, for years! Come home for a year of "furlough" (i.e., desperately traveling weeks on end, trying to raise more support) while living in people's basements or a spare rental house from a kind church. What goes through the minds of these men, these women? Did God's children in the Old Testament get a much better deal?
Billy Graham's home
There are greater rewards, as Jesus says. Jesus gave peace that the world does not understand. He gave food and water that the world cannot taste. He provides a host of family for the servant who has been deprived of family. He provides miraculously for the servant in need, while He need not do such miracles for the one who has provided for himself. The miracle itself is a more desirable commodity, is it not? When we hear stories of incredible provision, don't we sometimes say, "I wish He would do something like that in my life!" But do you need Him to, or just want Him to? Have you put yourself in such need? Have you taken the risk? When Jesus watched the tithers in the temple, he praised the widow as she gave her last 2 coins, giving from her need. Others gave from their wealth. Giving put no dent in their pockets; it didn't hurt. When they all left the temple, which one would experience a miracle of provision for dinner that night?
Mother Teresa's single room
These are thoughts that our church Jubilee has caused to rumble around in my mind.  The call to be a Christian is actually a rather radical call.

Jesus said, "Foxes have dens, and birds have nests,
but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."
Luke 9:58

3 comments:

  1. Interesting! Never having been in that situation I would have thought that you would feel a sense of security always having a home provided for you, albeit not perhaps one of your choice. Had not considered what happened in retirement.

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  2. Brilliant article and yes, one that is v important to workers in Christ's field. The vicar at my church when I first went back as an adult, they had an amazing provision from God. They found this hut in the North Yorkshire National Park and it was owned by the Crown but he had a vision saying, "You shall have the house," and so they were given it.Finally, they had it rebuilt after many years and it is now their sanctuary in his retirement. Doesn't always happen but their trust in Him provided for them.x

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    1. Kezzie, what a wonderful situation for them! I'm thankful they were blessed with a home.

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