Tag Archives: houses

Whose House Is It? (Hebrews 3:14)

We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. (Hebrews 3:14)

A few years ago, I owned a lovely Victorian house. The place had been marvelously restored, repainted, and refreshed. No one could complain about the price I paid for the joint, and I stood to make a pretty nice pile of dough when I sold it. I listed it for sale at a very reasonable price. Within a few days, I had not one but two fine offers. We negotiated and reached an agreement. Who could complain?

The only problem came when we went to closing. The closer scowled at the papers and then at me. “I see a problem here, Mr. Browning. There’s no record of you ever buying the house.”

I shrugged. “Well, the place was empty when I moved in, and nobody ever came around who seemed to own it, so…” Need I explain that the sale did not go through.

It seems that you can’t cash in on something that you don’t actually own. Who’d have thunk it?

When reading today’s verse, we might be tempted to understand it to mean that we can lose our salvation if we don’t hold on “to the very end.” But notice the verb tense. We “have come” (now) to share in Christ. It doesn’t say that we “will have come” (at the very end).

Some of us might appear to belong to Christ today, just as I appeared to own that house. It wasn’t as if I actually owned that house until my fraud came to light. I never owned the house. The Christian-in-appearance-only will be found out at some point. It might be next week when adversity washes aside the pretense of belief. It might be next year, when some squabble in the home causes true colors to shine forth. Perhaps the truth will not come out until “closing.”

My story of the lovely house is a fiction, but each of us has a genuine story about ownership by Christ. Today is the day for each of us to be sure he has a clear title to our souls.


House Guest or Master (Hebrews 3:6)

But Christ is faithful as the Son over Godís house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory. (Hebrews 3:6)

Dylan came visiting a couple of weeks back. A friend of Emily and Christian, Dylan comes from Pittsburgh, where he wants to begin a community for those in need of help. Far more tattooed than me, far more politically liberal than me, Dylan still brought a quality that I appreciated. He knew how to be a guest in my home.

Upon arriving, he announced that he’d be happy to do any work that we needed done. Penny and I assumed that he was simply being nice. When he repeated the offer, we determined to use his willingness. He ran a bead of silicone on our barn roof, a place that I hate to go, and hung a bat house. There may have been more, but in those two actions he willingly did more than most people who live here. Besides that, he cleaned up after himself and pitched in with the dishes and such.

While Dylan and I might clash over politics and the answers to social problems, I think we agree on the need to love people and take care of each other. When we agree on such matters, the other will resolve itself in time. Perhaps I am assuming too much about this guy, but I do believe you can tell a great deal about a person from what sort of house guest they prove to be.

Jesus, I’m convinced, was an outstanding house guest. I’m not sure what that meant in A.D. 33, but I rather expect he walked away from the home of Mary and Martha without them shaking their heads and wondering where he’d gotten his manners. He proved faithful as a house guest and as the master of the house, the church. Our call, I would suggest, in imitation of Christ, is to prove ourselves faithful over the house we find ourselves occupying. Perhaps that means we should be good house guests. Perhaps we should be good house owners. We might submit ourselves to someone else or exercise leadership over others. The tasks differ, but the call is the same.

I pray that Dylan will get that community started. I’m convinced he’ll prove a good steward over it. After all, I’ve seen some of his work.

Home Maintenance–1 John 4:20-21

If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.–1 John 4:20-21

Today, I enjoyed a harrowing experience. Back on Monday, I made a list of things I needed to accomplish in the week to come. Since today is Friday, I’m down to finishing off all those matters that I had put off ’til tomorrow. Two of them stood out. “Get the ladder” and “Clean out gutter.”
Most people do not look forward to cleaning out gutters, but my gutter, on the back of the house, is particularly unpleasant. A complete two stories up, this stretch of gutter resists all attempts by sane people to reach it. I can’t get to it from the deck. There’s no window access. I considered getting onto the roof from the front and crawling over the top, but I’m too big a chicken for that. Instead, I borrowed my mother’s extension ladder, a wobbling, wiggling affair, and clambered up to a nervous look over the gutter’s edge.
They say that “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” In the case of gutters, I think that absence makes the heart ignore. I’ve known that this particular stretch of our gutters was messed up for a couple of years, but with its rather out-of-the-way location, I could easily ignore it. I can’t ignore my grass when it gets too tall but I can ignore the miniature wilderness area between our house and the “vampires” next door. What you don’t see very often is easy to block out.
As he continues to harp on the necessity of loving our brothers, John seems determined to demolish all of our pretenses, our illusions of truly loving God when we don’t. Think about it. When you see some able-bodied person’s yard a total mess, don’t you expect that the less obvious matters of home maintenance, matters like gutters, might not be getting proper attention. So it is with our love for God. If we can’t love the people right in front of us, who are we fooling when we say we love God? We’re not fooling God. Perhaps we’re just fooling ourselves.

Janie’s House–1 John 4:9

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. –1 John 4:9

Janie does not love her house. This house isn’t the one where she lives. I can’t speak about her love (or lack thereof) for that place, but her previous house, the one down the street from our house, the one that she apparently owns jointly with her ex-husband, shows a definite lack of love.

This lack of love is clear. The deck nearly fell off of it before some workmen tore the thing down. Janie has allowed a family of raccoons to take up residence, apparently gaining access through a hole in the eaves. They might also use the broken-out panel of the garage door or the recently kicked-in back door. I’m not entirely sure, but I have it on good authority that the ‘coons have moved in and left their evidence all over the place.

To her credit, Janie did get the grass mowed before being issued a ticket by the city. It had only reached mid-calf when her workers did their duty. The place is finally on the market, a move that brought great rejoicing onto our street. Hopefully somebody will pay a good thirty or forty bucks for the house and relieve us of our long neighborhood nightmare.

Love, whether it be for a house or a person, typically manifests itself in some tangible way. Although we humans can occasionally do apparently loving things for a reason other than love and apparently unloving actions despite genuine love, actual love will sooner or later be accompanied by actual loving actions.

Today’s verse talks about God’s ultimate act of love, one that far surpasses any that you or I might ever muster. But I really don’t want to focus on that act. Instead, I’d like to look at the way that I demonstrate love and encourage you to look at your acts of love as well. How do I show my love for God? My wife? My children? My church and my community? Hopefully I do a better job than Janie when it comes to maintaining the house of love.