Home Is Where The Heart Is

 Home Is Where The Heart Is

Guest Editorial By Roger Parlour Shepherd of the Boston International Christian Church

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Roger & Kama Parlour with both
their children who are disciples and married!

The home has been and remains one of the most powerful weapons against the “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). The home is where memories are made that will influence and direct the rest of our lives. It’s where relationships are forged, maintained and strengthened during our time on earth. It is where Christianity is seen in one of its most natural and pure forms- the marriage and family. Many a conviction has been crystallized by seeing a Christian marriage/family in action in the home- the love, faith and commitment are undeniable. Through our homes God demonstrates His plan to the world concerning His family- the Kingdom- a place of love, joy and unified relationships!

The world in sharp contrast has very little to offer in the way of the home. Even in many “Christian” circles, sadly including- from personal experience- our former fellowship, marriage and the family have been devalued and in many cases given up on. When problems arise, instead of fighting for the great victories that can take place through prayer, God’s word and discipling, the advice given is often “you’d probably be better off being apart” or “maybe you need a break from the relationship” leaving children in the wake without the consistent influence and support of their father or mother. What a travesty of what God’s kingdom is supposed to be! Many historians and psychologists, noting the patterns of world history, believe this to be a contributing factor to the downfall of past civilizations and to the decline of America in our day. In our country, homes have become just a hostel providing room and board where family members can eat and sleep. Deep relationships within the family have been minimized. Anger, frustration and violence reign in a place that God has designed as a safe refuge and haven for

those dealing with the pressures, stresses and uncertainties of our times. Many homes in America are broken- visibly through divorce or separation, or invisibly behind closed doors through neglect and indifference. Recent surveys have put the divorce rate as high as 65% in some areas of the US and 60% overall. This means that 60 to 65 out of every 100 marriages will end leaving a trail of heartache and loneliness for those involved.    Marriages end and families split leaving the home not a place of joyous memories but a place of heartache, or at the very least, unfulfilled hopes and dreams (Proverbs 13:12). Singles, college students and even teens are left with nothing to dream about or hope for in their future families- because they’ve only known and grown up with unhealthy family experiences and values. This cycle, if left unchanged, will continue through the generations. While many other efforts make valiant attempts, only through the example of true Christian households with Jesus as Lord and the cross as our motivation will this pattern be broken and the family be restored to its beauty and prominence in God’s plan to win the world.

I can remember many college students and singles coming over for dinner before a study and being amazed at how a Christian family works. We would eat and laugh at the table, talking about the day’s events, using the scriptures when we could to emphasize what God was doing in our lives, our family and in the world as a whole. After the meal was finished we would just sit and talk or the kids would hijack our guests to play a game or work on a project. Later we would go up to one of their rooms and we would sit on the floor in a circle and each of us would pray for our family, the needs in the church, world evangelism and/or recent church plantings. Sometimes the kids would pray for our guests to become disciples- that was always very convicting! After saying good night we would continue with our evening while the kids went to sleep. The comments we received were things like “I never knew what a Christian family was like” or “that’s how I want my family to be!” The most amazing thing was how much more open they were to receive God’s word after seeing what a true household of God was like!

We so often underestimate the power of example that our families can provide in the lives of these young men and women. The amazing example in the bible of a Christian household being used by God is that of Aquila and Priscilla. Sought after by Paul in Corinth, after they had been expelled from Rome by the emperor Claudius in 52AD, this couple became a great source of joy and support for Paul, working together in making tents so that Paul could devote himself to preaching the Word. Acts 18 indicates they opened their home to him and he stayed with them before leaving for Achaia. After approximately 18 months together in Corinth Paul continued on his second missionary journey, taking Aquila and Priscilla with him to the great city of Ephesus, the commercial hub of Asia. Here, in the city of high walls and marble streets, Paul left them for a short time before returning for 3 years during his third missionary journey to build one of the strongest churches of the first century- again with Aquila and Priscilla at his side. When Paul left Ephesus for Greece, Aquila and Priscilla may have moved back to Rome to help establish a church in that great city. Shortly after arriving in Rome they began meeting in their home. In 65-67AD they were again back in Ephesus when 2 Timothy was written helping Timothy with the church there. Tradition has it that they were martyred in either Rome or Asia Minor. The power of their example is seen in the fruit that was born from their lives, and how often they used their home as a tool for God’s kingdom. Interestingly enough, two other house churches the bible mentions are those that met in Philemon’s home (Philemon 2) and the home of a sister named Nympha (Colossians 4:15). Because Paul never went to Colosse, many historians believe that Paul and Philemon actually met in Ephesus, a short distant from Colosse, and that possibly Philemon was converted there before returning to his home town (Philemon 19). Remembering how close Paul and Aquila and Priscilla worked together in Ephesus, Philemon may have been discipled by this heroic couple to start a church in his house. Whether Nympha actually lived in Colosse or in Laodicea just a few miles away, she could have received the same encouragement and training from Philemon. The influence Aquila and Priscilla had in the use of their home was kingdom-wide!

Of the many lessons we can learn from the example of their lives, one thing is clear: they used their home for the kingdom- a crucial lesson as we forcefully advance God’s kingdom today!

“He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.”(Acts 18:26)

“The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house.” (1 Corinthians 16:19)

“Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house.” (Romans 16:3-5)

Aquila and Priscilla had an open door policy when it came to the kingdom. In Ephesus they opened their home to teach and preach the word of God. Apollos, “a learned man with a thorough knowledge of the scriptures” who “taught about Jesus accurately” needed some tweaking in his understanding of God’s word. The meeting didn’t happen at the local McDonalds or Dunkin’ Donuts, but they invited him into the intimate setting of their home. They wanted to build a relationship with Apollos, not just “explain to him the way of God more adequately”. I picture a nice dinner, maybe tea afterwards and a discussion of God’s word with no distractions. That night would be recalled with gratitude- the night he had been brought into the warmth of this couple’s home to hear God’s message and get baptized with the baptism of Jesus. They could have been intimidated by this powerful orator as he refuted the Jews in Ephesus. Instead they boldly won him over within their home. Because of their love and hospitality, whatever walls Apollos had come with came down so that God could use him powerfully. There is nothing like an invitation into the informal and friendly confines of the home to break down walls. A warm meal, a relaxing time around the table with conversation and laughter and taking the time to really get to know someone- this is where great relationships are forged and walls of religious pride, insecurity and mistrust are broken down.

In Ephesus as well as Rome, and possibly Corinth, Aquila and Priscilla used their house as a meeting place for the Christians or to start congregations. Their warmth (1 Corinthians 16:19) was extended to the congregation and to non-Christians wherever they lived. Today our society is crying out for godly families to bring hope and security to a hopeless and uncertain world. Desperate and confused young men and women are searching for a great light in the darkness of human wisdom and satan’s deceptions- a light that will give them guidance and direction for a life of which they can only dream. Our homes and our deep relationships will provide that light and direction. We must strengthen our resolve to have families that emulate Christ and His church, and relationships that are God-centered through prayer, God’s word and discipling. God wants us to open our homes and to be like Aquila and Priscilla, in order to bring in those who have been marred and scarred by life and offer them the gifts of faith, hope and love. The faith in a God that died for them, the hope of a joyful and fulfilling future and the love of God’s glorious family- His everlasting Kingdom!