Last weekend was Homecoming for our town. No, I’m not talking about a high school homecoming game and dance. I mean a town wide, full blown celebration, complete with live entertainment, food and vendor booths set up in the downtown area, picnics, cook-offs, and dancing in the street. No joke. You see, 50 years ago one guy who had since moved to the big city came back here to his hometown to go to church one week and it made such an impression on him that he got a bunch of friends together to go back with him shortly thereafter. They went to church “back home” and had a grand ol’ picnic, and decided they would make an annual tradition of it. 50 years later it’s going stronger than ever. Why? Because home is a very powerful draw.
Home. The word itself can mean a few different things. When you’re out shopping and you say you’re going “home,” it means to the house where you currently live. But there’s an even deeper meaning. I personally think of Michigan as my home, even though I now live 1300 miles away. We are planning a trip back there to visit family this summer, and I’m already excited about going “home.” In that sense, home is the place where you grew up. But either way, home is a place where memories are made, a place where one feels loved and accepted and safe.
Granted, there are some people for whom home is not a safe place, and that’s heartbreaking. Home is supposed to be a loving, caring, supportive environment, and when one’s home does not meet those needs, serious damage can be done to a person. If that’s the case for you, I am truly sorry. But there’s good news for you as well. No matter what your home is like here on earth, you aren’t truly home yet.
The great faith chapter, Hebrews 11, tells us of people who lived out their faith in ways the world cannot fathom. Then verses 13-16 explains, “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles in the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” Philippians 3:20a reiterates, “But our citizenship is in heaven…” This earth isn’t all there is, dear ones.
Jesus Himself promises the same thing in John 14:2-4. “In my Father’s house are many rooms…[I]f I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” The Greek word used for “rooms” doesn’t depict temporary housing, like a hotel room. It literally means “dwelling places,” which implies permanence. And lest we doubt what Jesus means about “the way” to heaven, He spells it out for us two verses later in John 14:6—“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It’s that simple, folks. Believing in Jesus is the only way to that heavenly dwelling, heaven. There’s no complicated route or tricky directions. It’s pure and simple faith in Jesus that will get us to our heavenly home.
I’m still excited about going “home” this summer, and our town here will continue to celebrate Homecoming annually, but there’s so much more in the end. This earth isn’t my real home. My citizenship is in heaven. Jesus has my dwelling place prepared, and one day, through faith in Him, I will be going home. Eternally.