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A House or a Home?

As you may know, Aileen and I just bought our first house. While we found the house quite quickly (as these things go), we first toured several towns and walked through fifteen or twenty houses looking for just the right one. As we toured house after house it quickly became apparent which homeowners had invested some extra effort in making their homes attractive to prospective buyers. I’m sure you have experienced what we did. Some houses were immediately attractive to us, even if they did not meet our needs or appeal us as asthetically. The houses that had the greatest appeal were those that were truly homes.

There is a difference between a house and a home, isn’t there? A newly constructed neighborhood not far from me advertises “homes beginning in the low 300’s.” But they aren’t really selling homes, are they? They are selling houses. A house only becomes a home when a person lives in it and when it begins to take on the personality of the inhabitants. An empty house is just a shell. It is much like a dead human body. It is a body, but it is not a person.

There is a lot a person can do to increase the potential of selling his house. Interestingly, many of these revolve around making a house more like a home. A house that has furniture in it is likely to sell for a higher price than a house that is empty. Pictures on the wall, lights that are turned on and beds that are made make a house look like a home. The smell of fresh bread or cookies makes a house smell like a pleasant home. And that is what people are looking for when they buy a house. They are looking for a house in which they can make a home. There is an immediate attraction to a house that feels like a home!

As I was reflecting on the difference between a house and a home this morning I turned, as I often seem to, to the Bible. I found myself reading in the fourteenth chapter of John. We read there an incredible promise of Jesus. Preparing to face his last hours, Jesus spent an evening teaching his disciples and telling them that He would soon be taken from them. Yet in His goodness and compassion He promised not to leave His disciples alone. “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth.” Jesus promised to ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to be a helper to His people. But there is more. This Holy Spirit will not only dwell with us, but will make his abode in us. “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.” God Himself will make His home in us.

That little word, translated home, is used in this chapter of the Bible and nowhere else. The Bible Exposition Commentary says the following: “If we treasure His Word and obey it, then the Father and the Son will share Their love with us and make Their home in us. The word translated “abode” in John 14:23 means “make our home” and is related to “mansions” in John 14:2. When the sinner trusts Christ, he is born again and the Spirit immediately enters his body and bears witness that he is a child of God. The Spirit is resident and will not depart. But as the believer yields to the Father, loves the Word, prays, and obeys, there is a deeper relationship with the Father, Son, and Spirit. Salvation means we are going to heaven, but submission means that heaven comes to us!”

Is that not an incredible promise? When we are saved and regenerated by the power of God, God Himself dwells within us. He builds not just a house but a home. He takes up permanent residence within us, promising never to forget or forsake us. Once He takes up residence in our hearts He promises never to leave. Heaven truly comes to us! As I meditated upon this promise I was moved to praise God for living in and with me and for giving His word that He will remain there forever. Truly He is good to me.