Building the House of God

Many Christians have a tendency to compartmentalize their lives. Work is limited to the office, family life is at home and church life is at the church. This has led to a misunderstanding of how the Christian life is to be lived. The Christian life then becomes limited to where we believe or want to express it rather than it being lived out in every facet of our lives.

One area of our lives that should be considered as sacred as the church is our homes. Most of us have undervalued and underestimated God’s perspective and heart for the home.

The home is to be a place where our faith is to be lived out and taught. We cannot underestimate the importance of ’home’ and ’family’ to God. God’s pattern for ’family’ and His principles for blessing in the home. As the definition of ‘family’ and ‘home’ change like shifting sand, it is important to recognize and remember God’s design and plan.

God began human existence with a family. In the Creation narrative, God started with Adam and Eve, the first family. From there, as children were added certain structures and processes were added.

If we stop and look at history, God’s relationship with humanity was in the context of the family before the setting of the church. The Israelites did not have a formal place of worship until the Tabernacle of Moses. Previous to this, the place of worship was the home, and all worship was directed and lead by the head of the home.

One of the areas where we have fallen in the area of the spiritual home is we have replaced the home with the church. For many Christians and their families, all spirituality is exercised in or through the church. I would dare say that most of our prayers, most of our teaching and most of our serving is done in or through the church. The home is often seen as a refuge from work, but I think for many it has also become a refuge from their faith.

In too many Christian’s homes there has been an abdication of responsibility for godly leadership, family worship and spiritual discipleship. How do we expect God to bless our marriages, our families and homes when we keep Him at our places of worship?

Firstly, we need to choose to make our Home, His home. When confronted with choosing to follow God or not, Joshua proclaims in 24:15, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua made a choice for his home. His choice was for his household to serve one God only, to worship one God only. This was a choice against idolatry and for faithfulness. Regardless of the choices of others, Joshua’s wife and children knew which way he would lead them.

The challenges of Joshua’s day are no less than those we live among today. We have to choose to live according to God’s design for us in our homes and families.

I remember seeing a plaque in the hallway of a home of a family in the first church I pastored. It read: “Christ is the head of this house, the unseen guest at every meal, the silent listener to every conversation.” Acknowledging God’s presence and position in the home is the starting point in making our Home, His.

Earlier on, Jacob too made a clear decision to make God the Lord of His household. In Genesis 35:2-5 we read, “So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.”

It is interesting how we acknowledge God’s Providence in our giving, but when it comes to something like our homes we often see ourselves as the primary owner. But is this true? We probably assume that as Christians our homes are also ‘Christian.” But to truly make our home, God’s dwelling place, it involves more than living there. Are we living as we should at home? Are our relationships as they should be? Do we compromise or model things as the world and live contrary to what the Scriptures say?

Making God the Lord of our homes brings blessing. Psalm 128 says, “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labour; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. May you live to see your children’s children—peace be on Israel.”

This leads to the second point: we need to welcome His presence into our home. We read in 2 Samuel 6 how the home where the Ark of the Covenant was stored was blessed by God. For three months the most awesome symbol of God’s presence was seated in Obed-Edom’s home. This box was the most sacred article in all of Israel’s history and it became the focal part of his home.

I am certain that this box changed the way they lived in that house. In essence, this box was a reminder of God’s presence with them. When God’s presence is welcomed and encouraged a home is truly blessed.

In most of our homes, there is a box which is the focal point. The furniture points toward it and too often our attention is too focussed upon it. It has the power to shape our home life, form our children, corrupt our values, disturb our relationships and control our diaries. In many Christian homes, the television schedule is read more than the Bible. Now I am not against television, but like anything in our lives, if it takes us away from what matters, its value needs to be questioned.

The box at the centre of Obed-Edom’s house brought blessing. It was a daily reminder of God’s presence and goodness to Israel, His faithfulness, promises, covenant, power and glory.

As a pastor, I know Christians and especially Christian parents rely on us to educate them and their families in the ways of God. As much reliance is placed on us, our influence is limited. We may see people from our congregations at Sunday church services, Sunday school and other programmed events. This might total three to five hours a week. Comparing that to time in the home, it is a small fraction. The home is the primary place where we live our lives and because of that, it is the primary place we should be teaching and learning of the things of God.

Psalm 78:1-6 says, “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labour; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. May you live to see your children’s children—peace be on Israel. Then they would put their trust in God  and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.” When we do this, our homes will truly become the “House of God” and future generations will be blessed.

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