When Kim and I were married, we moved into a house. We also had a sense that we wouldn’t be living there for very long. We simultaneously had a sense that God was going to send us somewhere on a mission which meant that the house we were in would never really be our home. When we bought the house we now live in, there was a moment when it was transformed from being a house into our home. Homes don’t just happen. They are made. A home can be where one person dwells, a couple dwell, siblings dwell, a parent or parents dwell with their child or children, or even where a group of people dwell perhaps while they complete their university studies. A home is where you can be you and feel safe, secure, and accepted. But a dwelling can only become ‘a home’ when it is made into one and this is where the ABCs of home-making applies.
¶ Even the sparrow finds a home,and the swallow a nest for herself,where she may lay her young,at your altars, O LORD of hosts,my King and my God.Blessed are those who dwell in your house,ever singing your praise! SelahPsalm 84:3-4
HOMES ARE DYNAMIC
When things change we refer to them as being dynamic. When any young couple marries and they eventually move into their new home, the time comes when they long to start their own family. And when a child is welcomed into a home, that home changes. The couple are now parents and they are now presented with increased home-making challenges. They soon discover that a home can only function when everyone who shares it understands three essential things. Thus, their immediate role as parents of their newborn is to begin to teach and demonstrate the ABCs of what makes a home functional. As their child grows, and hopefully even more children are welcomed into their home, their parental role increases in importance.
Homes require a certain attitude for them to be functional. Attitude is about heart. It’s an internal response to external circumstances. For a home to be a home, those who dwell together in it must have a positive, caring, helpful, generous, teachable, humble attitude. A child does not enter the world with these character traits pre-loaded. They must be ‘caught’ then ‘taught’. A child has to learn that even when things don’t go their way, they have to be a person of character with an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude. Every parent knows that when a first child becomes a sibling to a new member of the family, they are prone to developing an attitude of feeling left-out or neglected, and even resenting the arrival of their baby brother of sister.
This is why it is important for every member of the home to have an attitude that willingly serves each other and contributes to the home. This makes meal-time at the dinner table incredibly important. It also makes the contribution of each member at the time to be important as well. Even two or three year olds can put the salt or pepper on the table. As they get older they can set the table, clear the table, help dad wash and dry the dishes, and put the condiments away.
This kind of humble, servant attitude is modelled by Dad and Mum and is soon caught by their children. I’m not suggesting that this is easy or that family members won’t default to resistance to be helpful. But in order for a home to work well, there has to be a heart-felt culture that is sincere and positive.
For a home to be happy there has to be a set of commonly held and correct beliefs. Parents should begin teaching their children about God and His Word from the outset and invite challenges to and questions about these beliefs in a way that demonstrates to their children that these beliefs can sustain scrutiny. Because we now live in a world which mistakenly believes that all ideas are equal, homes must be the place where truth becomes the foundation for ideas and reasons become the grounding for opinions. When parents present their child to the Lord in an act of dedication, a part of the ceremony contains the words “that the child will most naturally come to put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Saviour”. This declaration is built on the home life of the child having their beliefs shaped by the truth about God and His Word.
The kind of conduct needed to build a strong and happy home is built on the foundation of a heart that produces an attitude of love and servanthood, and is grounded in true beliefs. The desire to do right does not come pre-loaded into the heart of a child. This is why rules are needed to shape and inform right conduct. Parents would do well to continually teach the 10 Commandments to their children and show how these are taught in the New Testament. These commandments are basis for the legal systems of all civilised nations and would be at home in any home as well.
THE ABCs OF HOME-MAKING FOR A CHURCH
When the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy about what to look for in prospective elders, he concluded by stating that they must first have their own homes in order. Apparently Paul regarded the church as being like a home.
for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? First Timothy 3:5
For our church to be a home, we need lots of spiritual ‘mums’ and ‘dads’ who know how to help raise spiritual children. These spiritual mums and dads, just like the Apostle Paul himself, may have never had had the privilege of being a parent in the natural, but they can play a vital role in helping us to Legana a spiritual home for our spiritual children. Within our church-home we also need ‘aunts’ and ‘uncles’ who get alongside these new ones and encourage them. We also need spiritual Opas and Omas (Grandfathers and Grandmothers) who can pray incessantly for our young ones in the Lord to grow to maturity. Above all, for our church to be a home in which we regularly welcome new family members and even visitors, we need an attitude shaped by the attitude of Christ, beliefs that are grounded in God’s Word, and conduct that seeks to glorify and reflect God.
if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. First Timothy 3:15
Please join with me in making our church a home where we can say and mean to the many that we will welcome, “Welcome home!”