“Home is where the heart is.” This is a great platitude that has a lot more truth in it than is conveyed when it is used as a cliche. How do we know where someone’s heart is? Why does it matter where home is? Can home be just a place I store my toothbrush and extra clothes? Actually, the idea of home is deeply rooted and has its very core in the idea of Heaven itself.
Home is a very important idea to God; He talks about the concept many times over but never more poignantly than when Jesus Himself tells His disciples that He is leaving them, but only to go and prepare a place for them to live forever with Him (John 14:2,3). God set up the family as the first unit of society, and all other forms of society had roots in the family. Kindness and hospitality to strangers, good stewardship, relationship rules all related back to family first and then community. Keeping the Sabbath happened at home. Marriage and home were exalted and revered; Jesus even talks of the church as His Bride. Further, Jesus says to His disciples in John 14:23, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him.” If home isn’t a pleasant, loving, life-giving place, why would children hear that and want that for themselves? For adults who didn’t have loving homes, look how that hijacks the message Jesus is trying to give.
This of course is why the home is so continually under attack from our enemy throughout the ages, and never more pointedly than right now. Think societal pressures on moms & dads to relinquish their roles more & more to others, incredible amounts of distracting activities, continual suggestions that parents are not qualified or wise or capable of making good decisions for their own children. Because of these and other disheartening messages, it is important for us moms and dads to remind ourselves of the strength God planted implicitly in the family unit.
One concise picture from a Christian writer: “The human house is a paradox, for it is larger inside than out,” and “The place where babies are born, where men die, where the daily drama of mortal life is acted, is not an office or shop or bureau. It is something much smaller in size, yet much larger in scope....the home.....has a character of unity and universality that is not found in any of the fragmentary experiences of the office or the shop or the bureau.” What a concept to think about: the home is bigger than workplaces or schools or sports programs or community centers. He is saying what happens in our homes has much bigger implications for the world than any of those: home impacts us all in deep and lasting ways.
That is the good news: what happens in our homes with our children can effect them for the long term, quite often forever. “The oldest things should be taught to the youngest people,” our friend also tells us. If we can tuck those oldest truths into our young children, when they are most easily impressed, they can root in those hearts and bear fruit for generations to come. That is also the challenge: home needs to be a place where children learn to be who they were created to be; to learn to live with limits and to laugh; to learn forgiveness and work ethic. They need what is called the “home field advantage” in sports: to know what it is to be an expert somewhere because of familiarity and experience, and to know that the people on their home team will root for them no matter what. With that knowledge comes respect for self and others, as well as a deep sense of purpose and connectedness that cannot be taught anywhere else the same way. Capture those young hearts, and they will always have Home.