Monday, May 5, 2014

Anywhere is Home

Being a member of the Lord's church brings about some profound realizations. One in particular is the understanding of being a part of the universal brotherhood of believers. I have been fortunate to have lived in different states in our country as a member of the body of Christ. I have been allowed to preach all over the United States and in other parts of the world. I just returned from a trip to Michigan to be with the brethren there, and every minute of it was an encouraging and enjoyable time.

Within five minutes of my arrival at the Saline church building I felt at home. They accepted me immediately and treated me as if I had been there all of my life. Over the weekend I stayed in the local preacher's home and he and I spent time most every night talking about the church and our work. By sharing our challenges and experiences we built each other up. In discussing truths in the Bible we were confirming each other's faith. Every evening I was hosted by a different family for a meal and fellowship. By the time I left I knew in my mind and felt in my heart I was leaving family behind.

Regardless of what some may be teaching in the religious world, I am constantly reminded in my travels that the Bible is the great equalizer and unifier within the spiritual realm. I can literally go anywhere in the world and find people who believe and practice New Testament Christianity in its purest and simplest form. Their culture and language may be different, but they have submitted to and are obeying daily the same gospel I have come to know and practice. Without a word, and sometimes with nothing more than smiles and friendship and time spent together I can quickly be at home with the church of Christ in any community.

Make no mistake, by the end of the meeting I was sincerely missing my wife and children and I was ready to come home. I missed my church family where I work and worship and I was longing to be with them as soon as possible. But when you are a member of the body of Christ, you are never lonely. I wonder how people who are a part of a "new church" get along without the fellowship and understanding of the universal church that began on the day of Pentecost.

Sometimes we sing a song in our assemblies entitled, "Anywhere is Home." The sentiment of that hymn is that as long as the Lord is with us we are at home - regardless of the location and circumstances. When I got off the plane I was ready to get to my home as fast as I could. Cookeville, TN is my home, and it feels like home. It is where my family is waiting for me, and our residence and daily experience is firmly planted in Putnam County.

But there is another since in which I am never not at home. In the church, my spiritual family is there for me around the globe. There is a sense of belonging that is unmatchable and unexplainable that goes beyond words or expression. For the time being, it is God's plan that none of us in Christ's body, the church, can be found in only one location. Beyond the responsibilities of the great commission, it is because our true and eternal home is really not anywhere on this earth.

I met some brethren this week that have been in my family all my life, and yet I never knew it. Genuine, loving, Christian people who love God with everything that is in them and who are in all of the ways that matter exactly like me. I can only imagine what it will be like in heaven when we meet all of our other family members and have eternal fellowship with them around the throne of God.

When that day comes, we will no longer sing, "Anywhere is Home." There will only be one home that will be sufficient to bring us eternal rest and peace.

"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." ~ Philippians 3:20

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