By Jeter Livingston
Home shapes your heart. It’s not the only element in the construction of how you view God, yourself, the world and everything else, but it is huge in its influence. It is where we are first taught who we are and who God and everyone else is. It’s the home that teaches values, both good and bad, that shape our behavior and the ways we perceive ourselves and the world around us. It’s the place that creates a sense of self, either true or false, that will set the stage for the how you will tend see yourself for the remainder of your life.
Home shapes the heart.
Seventy years into my journey on this earth, I am still wrestling with what my home taught me. Most of the lessons were very, very good – the value of work, the value of excellence, the value of gratitude, and certainly, the value of following my Creator. Many were wrong or incomplete or built on falsehoods that my parents learned in their homes. And those negative lessons have plagued me all my life in one form or another. My childhood home was not unique in this sense; the perfect home does not exist on this earth. Therefore we learn to forgive and to grow and to strive towards the one true, perfect home.
In our current sermon series, as you well know, home is the central theme. In our Advent season we are looking at Our Heart-Christ’s Home. We are exploring some of what it means to be at home in God and Him to make his home with us, based on the incredible truth that God our Creator brings us into his home (his presence) where we are being formed to be like him. And it is in his home that we are taught his thoughts, his values, his way of life and his perfect will. Our hearts are being shaped by his home.
Advent is an optimum time to reflect on the values being taught in God’s home. There are the ones that even the secular world acknowledges in its commercialism: joy, peace, love. (How sad that the world seeks to promote them while ignoring their source!) And then there are the ones like giving and compassion and reaching out beyond ourselves. We value light in this season, and we talk of hope, and we sing of fulfilled promises and expectations. We underscore beauty and tranquility and “rightness”; we talk of the spirit of Christmas and wish that those feelings we experience during Advent could somehow be present all year long.
We hold those values dear, for they are the values we learn in our home, the home that the Father has brought us into. We see him living out those values day by day and, like little children in an earthly home, we make them our own by imitating what we see and perceive. We become what we behold and imitate and learn to believe in the home where we belong.
What does a heart look like that has been shaped by God’s home? It would be a heart characterized by a concern for God’s glory. It would long for holiness and justice and righteousness in every sphere of life, both personal and communal and global. Gratitude and thankfulness, generosity and compassion without boundaries would color all that it did. Such a heart would be oriented outward and toward the future, grounded unshakably in the love and grace of the Father. It would maintain a posture of open hands – ready to receive and to give. What concerns the heart of God would be its concern; what breaks the heart of God would break its heart; what brings joy to the heart of God would be the cause of its rejoicing.
Our desire at Wellspring is to be a community of hearts shaped by the one true home.
In this season of gratitude and giving, can we take a moment and ask ourselves how we can demonstrate the values we are learning in our true home? There are so many ways to do that at Wellspring! We can use the time and resources that our Father has provided so that even more of his Creation can come to know him and be brought into the loving home he brought us into.
As missions pastor, it’s no surprise I’m going to highlight a way you can do this cross-culturally! Please consider giving to this year’s two-part Advent project. Please refer to yesterday’s bulletin insert for instructions on how to give.
1) $5,000 will go towards purchasing and equipping a building for a church plant in France. France is one of the most secular countries in the world. Helping the Althauses and this church community will help them to continue to reach into this secular community and introduce people to the One who wants to bring them into their true home.
2) $5,000 will go towards purchasing Bibles for the Alliance Envision site (known as the South Asian Friendship Center) in Chicago’s Little India neighborhood. Getting God’s Word into people’s hands, in their heart language, is a historically proven way to woo people into the Kingdom of God. Bibles in Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi will be made available to the SAFC for use in their exciting work in this neighborhood.
God has made his home among us, that we might know him and become like him. Now is a great time to let the values we are learning in his home become behavior that will change the course of history.