Bible: You’ve already been called home

Mar 4, 2019 by

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When the State of Illinois decided to expand I-74 just north of our family farmstead in a multiyear spate of civil engineering angioplasty, my father decided to move our house. This was no small feat. Our house was a half-century-old brick two-story that had to be jacked and hoisted and girdered on a massive flatbed trailer by a team of men who specialized in house-moving.

Roth

Roth

We didn’t get to ride along in our rooms.

I remember holding my mother’s hand as she hugged my little brother to her hip. We watched in the sun and dust as the truck grunted and — impossibly — our house crept toward a freshly poured foundation, our old home in a new location.

Our vision of home will orient our lives. Where are we headed? Jesus told his disciples not to let their hearts be troubled because “in [his] Father’s house there are many dwelling places” (John 14:2). He goes to prepare a place for them.

They are journeying toward a home that is more than what presents as reality. It’s not just a place. Christ is their true homeland, the one in whom they will find their truest life and meaning.

The great fifth-century theologian, Augustine of Hippo, said: “Let us walk, then, like people who know they are on the way, because the king of our homeland has made himself our way.    . . . [Where] are we traveling? To Christ. How shall we reach him? Through Christ. He told us himself, I am the way, the truth and the life.”

Home permeates Jesus’ parables. It was a vision of home, remembered in the hogwash swirl, that set the prodigal on his journey back to the father. The memory of the abundance of his father’s table jolted him to make the journey (Luke 15:16-17). No command motivated him. No scolding to stick to a budget got him going.

The prodigal son plotted a course for what he longed for. He brought to mind a shimmer of the Father’s goodness, and he set out. Feet, take me there.

That’s where I want to go! Eyes, look to that horizon. That’s my home!

Perhaps it was home that Zacchaeus longed for. Zacchaeus was out of sorts and up a sycamore when Jesus made home unexpectedly possible for him (Luke 19:4).

Who is the guest? Who is the host?

“Hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today,” said Jesus (Luke 19:5). Then Zacchaeus, who as a tax collector betrayed tribe and Torah to make a quick shekel, found that Jesus had opened up a narrow way for him to come home again to his own people.

This is why at Zacchaeus’s extraordinary act of amends-making, Jesus says, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham” (Luke 19:9, New Living Translation).

Throughout his ministry, in parable and miracle, we hear Jesus calling people home. There’s the lost lamb and the lost coin and the two lost sons (Luke 15:4; 15:8; 15:11-32).

But so too, there’s the call of the disciples and the healing of the lepers and the demoniac brought to his knees by the fear of the Lord (Matt. 4:19; Luke 17:2; Mark 5:6). There are more. Turn and come home all.

As the prodigal and the tax collector discovered, to be at home is not something reserved for the end. Coming home to God means we’ll become just a little bit more ourselves. We’ll begin to feel more at home in our own skins. This is because to come home to God is to come home to who God created us to be.

Finding ourselves means finding our God.

Jesus’ words are an invitation for all of us. Come home. Let your heart rest in him who has made you for himself. Experience the at-home-ness that all of us were created to know.

Brad Roth is pastor of West Zion Mennonite Church in Mound­ridge, Kan., and author of God’s Country: Faith, Hope and the Future of the Rural Church (Herald Press). He blogs at DoxologyProject.com.


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