Christian, your home is not your sanctuary.
My wife and I just bought a house, and it has me reflecting. Just over a year ago, we moved to Houston to take up new positions in ministry. It’s been a whirlwind, but we finally landed on a little plot of ground we can call our own. Now, we’re in the nesting phase. You know that phase. It’s the one where we spend too much time on home decor websites, picking our shower curtains, and trying to match odd pieces of furniture we’re finding on OfferUp (the sane man’s Craigslist).
For what it is worth, we purchased a townhouse tucked away in a little walled-in neighborhood a few minutes from downtown Houston. It is the perfect location for my job: working with local churches engaged in urban missions. What is more, once you get off the streets and into this little neighborhood, it is peaceful and calm. The houses all face inward, toward a large central courtyard with big trees, nice landscaping, and a fountain in the middle. Compared to the bustle of the city streets outside, it’s pastoral. With all the nesting, I’m noticing a tendency already. I’m trying to make this place my sanctuary.
According to our culture, that is exactly what I should do. After all, a man’s home is his castle, right? Our houses, we are told, are places to escape from the rat race; a fortress of solitude where we get to be ourselves away from the prying eyes and expectations of others. That may sound nice, but unfortunately, that’s not at all how Christians should view their homes.
Your Home is Not Your Sanctuary
Without a doubt, your home should be peaceful, at least as peaceful as it can be full of sinful humans. Proverbs reminds us that a peaceful home is better than a lavish home (Prov. 17:1). Furthermore, a Christian home should be transformed by the power of the gospel. Our aim as Christians should be creating a home that oozes grace and overflows with the implications of the gospel as they are lived out in our marriages, our families, and our relationships with friends and neighbors. Finally, the Bible repeatedly reminds us of the importance of rest, and our homes should be places that allow us to do so.
However, there is a difference between a peaceful home and a self-indulgent one. Unfortunately, I’m afraid the typical American approach to our homes (if there is a typical approach) trends toward self-indulgence. It is not peace for the sake of others, or peace for the sake of rest as the Bible describes it, but a place of escape and a place to hide. In the United States especially, our houses are perhaps the single largest asset we own, and for the Christian this shouldn’t mean an attitude of possession but one of stewardship. The culture around us says to hoard our homes, but a biblical worldview tells us to use them for the benefit of others.
Simply put, our homes are good gifts from the Lord. If you are one of the folk blessed enough to own a home or have the resources to rent a space of your own, regardless of how hard you worked to earn it, God graciously provided you with those means. Your ability to work, the fact that some disaster did not consume your financial resources prior to purchasing, and your continued ability to own it are all the grace of the God who has entrusted you with this space. As with any other gift or resource given to us by God, that comes with a responsibility for stewardship.
If our home becomes our fortress of solitude, then we cease being stewards of that resource and become consumers of it. What is more, the attitude of escapism this creates runs contrary to the commission delivered by Christ to his disciples. The temptation to carve out a space where we can act however we want, where we do not have to “keep up the act,” or refuse to engage those around us takes our eyes off those in need of the gospel. Then our homes provide us with a literal space where we can go to avoid that commission. Instead of living outwardly as a witness, we find a place to avoid that calling on our lives.
Your Home is a Staging Ground for the Great Commission
Christians are not called to have castles with moats where we keep the world out. Instead of seeing our houses as sanctuaries from the world, we should consider them a staging ground for the Great Commission. What if instead of being possessors of homes, we were stewards of them? What if instead of escaping from others in our homes, we engaged others there? Instead of being filled with the quiet of solitude or self-indulgence of our own entertainment, what if they were filled with the laughter of fellowship or even the tears of a neighbor in crisis? I believe the call to consider our homes first a place for missions is a counter-cultural call. However, few possessions provide the opportunity to show hospitality and transparency like your own living room or dinner table. Nowadays, “gospel hospitality” is becoming a buzzword in Christian circles. There is a reason for that, and as long as we get the gospel part in there, hospitality becomes a crucial component to missions.
Consider ways to maximize your space for hospitality. It may mean rearranging some furniture or getting a bigger table. It may mean dusting off the patio furniture and using that guest bedroom for more than storage. However, the most significant changes have less to do with your physical space than your practice as a family. I am firmly convinced the number one obstacle is not a lack of space but a lack of invitations. Preparation for this kind of work has less to do with living room furniture and more to do with our heart condition. We need to be people who are quick to invite others into our space. And when it comes to the Great Commission, we need to be quick to use those moments not only to demonstrate hospitality but speak the gospel.
To that end, I want to challenge you to do two things: make a list and make a practice. First, make a list of those people in your relational network who may not be believers. It may be family members, neighbors down the street, coworkers, or members of your HOA. Whatever the case, you should know the names of those people God has placed in your circles of influence whose lives have yet to be changed by the gospel. Now that you have your list, make a practice of inviting these people into your homes with two specific purposes in mind. Demonstrate grace and hospitality like someone who knows what it means to be given immeasurable grace. Then, make a point to actually speak the good news of that grace you received. Having people over for dinner is nice. Doing so to share the only name given under heaven by which we can be saved is missions.
Christian, your home is not your sanctuary; Christ is. Let us find our refuge as we abide in the True Vine. Let us receive our refreshing from the Spirit. And let us steward for the sake of the gospel the gift we have been given in our homes.