Occasionally we hear the gospel song that says “This world not my home, I’m just a-passing through.” This line reminds us that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). So long as we’re on this side of eternity we are not really at home.
Perhaps somewhat related to this was Jesus’ observation about His lifestyle: “Foxes have holes, birds have their nests, but Son of Man has no place to lay His head" (Matthew 8:20). Jesus lived as a homeless man through the course of His public ministry.
But the other side of the coin is too easily forgotten: Jesus had a home in this world. For the majority of His life He made His home in Nazareth. It was such a part of His identity in those days that He was commonly known as “Jesus of Nazareth” (e.g. Mark 1:24).
I thought of this while I was studying Luke 2:39-40, which says, “When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.” Mary and Joseph previously had followed the Old Testament commands to dedicate the firstborn child (from Exodus 13:1-2,11-13) and to give a purification offering for the mother after her childbirth (from Leviticus 12:1-8). This is recorded in Luke 2:22-24,27. With that duty of pilgrimage having been completed, they were ready to go back to Nazareth. Luke’s transitional summary reveals several important functions of the home in the Christian life…
Sometimes God allows you to return to your hometown. Personally, though I’m a staunch KU fan, I never felt anger towards Roy Williams when he left to go back to North Carolina. He served as the Jayhawks’ coach for 15 years and had lots of success. And then he had a chance to go back home. I can relate to this. For me Topeka will always be the hometown that I can most easily relate to. I always enjoy going back there.
But that said, there are times when God calls you to move beyond your home circle. Jesus certainly went beyond Nazareth – first into Galilee, then into the surrounding regions, and eventually into Jerusalem. Paul, likewise, was from Tarsus – but he traveled all over the Mediterranean world on three separate missionary journeys.
And so it is with us. Sensing that God is leading us in this next step of our journey, Hillary and I plan to set up residence in northern California. It’s a place we’ve never lived in before, but it will become our home.
I learned to value the expression that says “Bloom where you’re planted” from my paternal grandmother. She often said it as she was making adjustments while getting older. And Jesus sets this kind of pattern for all of us. Wherever the Good Lord plants you, let it be a place where good things happen spiritually. We can all hope to “bloom” in our respective locations – to grow in wisdom, and to experience God’s grace as it would uniquely unfold in each of our lives. Much as He has uniquely made each one of us, He has uniquely placed us to make a kingdom-difference.
God bless you,
First Congregational Church's Pastor (August 2008-March 2017)
The blog of Andrew McHenry, Pastor of First Congregational Church of Emporia, Kansas.