Read first: Mark 10: 17-31 // John 15:4-11
In college, for 3 years I lived in an 1800’s house with 8 of my best friends. In those three years, that three-story, six bedroom, olive green house became home. Although it certainly was ugly—each imperfection sparked the welcomed feelings of familiarity and ownership. For example, above the fireplace we hung a giant velvet portrait of Jesus sitting on a rock that we found in the basement. Our kitchen floor was so uneven that if you set an egg on the counter, it would roll off, fast. The first day we moved in, we dropped a door (of all things) down the back staircase and left a big hole in the wall. We used an 8.5 x11” drawing of mine to cover it up—as far as I know, the hole remains gaping, and the coverup remains today.
We moved out of that old house in 2017. Girls were getting married, heading off to grad school and starting careers in new cities. We packed our bags, cleaned the floors, and took one last selfie on the front lawn, squeezing nine sad faces into the frame. We left home, and sought to find new ones.
If you’ve ever moved, you can probably tie nostalgic feelings to things like creaking stairs, crooked kitchens or cracked walls. There are hundreds of love songs written about homes; they never tell of the strength of the walls or beauty of the hardwood floors. They always sing of the warmth that comes from the ones who live there with you. It’s no secret that the “home” we felt in that place was not from the structure. It was the tears shed on our couches, and the laughs over egg shells in pancake batter. It was the evidence of God’s movement clearly displayed through the ministry and faithfulness of such different women. These things explain the magic that surfaces when we nine college roommates come together at a coffee shop, cabin, or someone else's kitchen table. Home was never the old house. It was always the girls.
Much biblical teaching describes the firm foundation we have in Christ, and the importance of growing deep roots. Without roots, the plant doesn’t grow. Christ-centered community, family, work, ministry, friends or relationships are good, good things, but we need reminding that they do not serve as building blocks to our intended home. It is no accident that we have a deep desire for stability, reliability and faithfulness. We read words like abide, and dwell in the Bible, and even the sound of those words being spoken awakens something in us. They sound stable and steady and sure. We look for places in our lives that remind us of Jesus and seek to dwell there.
Home in Christ is not a place you can find. Home is in Christ, the person.
In John chapter 15, Jesus teaches us in a clear monologue what it looks like to abide IN Him. He doesn’t ask us to stand next to Him or make our home on Him or around Him. He asks us to abide IN Him, and in turn, He will abide in us.
In the story of the rich young ruler, Jesus simply asks the rich man to follow Him. The threat of losing his beautiful things to pursue the unknown with Jesus was too much for him. He turned, and walked away from Jesus.
When we dig up our roots, cut ties from our earthly possessions and follow Jesus, we find our home. There we find the hope we seek. It is in Christ where our belonging becomes tangible. It is in Christ that our roots deepen and our purpose comes alive. Abiding in Christ is the destination of the sojourner– but it takes great courage to dig up your deep roots here on Earth. Fill your life with good people and service and generosity; all the while, setting your gaze on things above, remembering that it’s not the roots that make a home. Your home, in its truest sense, is made secure in the glorious person of Christ. Dig up your roots, and get ready to follow.