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Friday, January 17, 2014

Your home country

If you have ever traveled abroad, you know how awesome it feels to just "come home".  The differences you experience when you are in an unfamiliar country range from what you use for transportation, what you eat, to how you communicate.  There are also the differences in dress, living conditions, and weather, just to name a few.  By the end of your "trip", you find yourself settling down into the security and safety of "being home".  When we come to Christ, entering into his family, we find ourselves assuming a new home, much in the way Ruth assumed a new home when she chose to stay with Naomi many years ago (Ruth 1:16-17).  Yet, this "new home country" is not a burden to us because we have pledged our lives to the one whose home it is!   

This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.  (Ephesians 2:19-22 MSG)

This kingdom of faith is NOW your home country.  When we make this transition into the "kingdom of faith", it requires a separation from the former place of "residence" we each knew.  In other words, we detach from the old and attach to the new.  If you have ever tried sewing patches on the old in order to make it last a little longer, you know it works to "cover over" the holes in the old, but it sure doesn't present a very strong or pretty package. The old needs to be just that - old.  I think we get confused about this in today's society which emphasizes the importance of "recycling" things.  We used to just throw away old newspapers - now we turn them into insulation, shred them for compost, etc.  We keep them around, just in different forms than they once had - kind of like we try to clean up the old and hope it fits into the new home we NOW live in.  The issue comes in trying to hold onto the old - our old isn't meant to be recycled - it is meant to be a thing of our past.

No longer strangers or outsiders - we'd call this being an "insider".  We BELONG in this new "home country".  In a society which genuinely strives to just "belong" somewhere, without judgment or ridicule, isn't it amazing that we don't readily step into this place where we "belong"?  We struggle with this transition from old into new, all the while just yearning to "belong". God has already declared we "belong" - in his Kingdom - because of our relationship with is Son, Jesus Christ.  When we "belong", we get this sense of being "properly placed".  I love those pictures where you are challenged to find the things which do not belong in the photo.  In fact, I regularly play those type of games on the computer - it challenges my mind.  What I am looking for are things which don't actually seem to be properly placed - they don't "belong".  When we look at ourselves, I wonder if we see ourselves as "properly placed" in God's Kingdom, or if we are still viewing ourselves as outsiders?

God is the builder and his purpose is to build a home - not with bricks and mortar - but with each of us.  Regardless of how we found ourselves being brought into his family, we are specifically "fit together" to build his Kingdom. I may be a square brick, you might be oblong, and another might have a few curved edges - yet in God's unique way, he has a purpose for each of us. None of us is without a "perfect fit".  At first, when you look at the diversity of those God brings into this family we might think there is no way this oddly incongruent group of individuals could ever find a "fit" together.  In fact, I need your strengths and you need mine; I need to appreciate what you lend to the structure of this family, and you need to see what I also afford.  As we begin to look less at whether it is possible for us to ever find our "fit" and more at those God has "fit" us together with, we might just begin to see how uniqueness isn't what defines us, but what lends beauty to the whole.

A cornerstone unites two points of a wall - giving strength and stability to the wall because of this "plumb" uniting it affords.  Christ does this in his church - uniting what otherwise might just be at odds with each other; giving stability to what might otherwise be continually at the risk of being broken down and easily crumbled.  You don't lay the cornerstone last - you lay it first.  It is the starting point for the building to begin.  Start a wall without a cornerstone and you find you cannot "join" it together with another wall, even though that wall looks similar or has similar building materials as its basis.  The cornerstone is pivotal to the joining together and stability of the whole.  Reject the cornerstone and whatever is built will be of no great worth!  

We find ourselves brought into a new family - given a new "home country". There we find potential to be "built together" - but we have to get beyond focusing so much on the differences in the "stones".  We are called to make a clean break with the old country - the old way of living - in order to embrace the new.  It will never do to just recycle the old in an attempt to make the new - it needs to be left in the "old country" so we can fully adapt and learn to grow within the new!  Just sayin!