When one reaches a certain age, the dream of having a house of one’s own gets larger and much more real. The black and white images hidden away in the storerooms of the mind start to gain some colour and become more insistent. Each week I search through the local paper property section looking out for the perfect new home (with shed, garage, garden, games room etc. and yet still small enough not to have to clean very often!) and at the absolute bottom price!
It is easy to get carried away: what exactly am I looking for? Somewhere quiet and undisturbed? Well away from the main body of neighbours? Or somewhere in the middle of all the action and bustle? Do I need a spare room? What if I have guests? Where will I entertain? Is the sink big enough for 2 people to do the washing up simultaneously? Is there room for my pine pew and folding pool table?
Realising that, in the excitement of the chase, I can easily lose sight of the larger picture (the eternal perspective which comes from studying God’s word, careful prayer and praise), I decided to spend some time studying what exactly the Bible says about finding a new house or home.
In this post I will deal with point number 1.
1. Should a Christian buy a House?
It seemed a good idea to start with the basics- is it right for a Christian to be looking to buy a house anyway?
a. Having posed the question, my mind instantly jumped to Hebrews and chapter 11.
“By faith he [Abraham] went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.”
(Hebrews 11:9-10 ESV)
“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 on 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.”
(Hebrews 11:13-16 ESV)
You might think me a nit-picker, but the bible certainly says that we should ‘desire a better country’ (for these purposes is it fair to change country for house?). Abraham lived for his death. He lived because he knew that one day he would be arriving at his final destination: a Heaven occupied by the Lord himself. Abraham was described as an exile on earth- and yet he lived here for 175 years- Surely that makes us all exiles too?! According to the scriptures… yes. If we are living for Christ Jesus, then this world is only a waiting area really. Is it not logical to assume, therefore, that we shouldn’t be busy putting down roots here? After all, Hebrews 11 suggests that if we live as strangers then we make it really obvious to everyone else that we are eagerly waiting for our final home in Heaven.
b. Physical security can lead to a significant loss of trust in the Lord. See the Laodicean Church below:
“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.””
(Revelation 3:15-17 ESV)
c. One obvious example of a NT character who focused on the ‘here and now’ too much is Martha. The Lord Jesus kindly reminded her that physical requirements, and housekeeping in particular, should not take the main place in our lives. Luke chapter 10 verses 38 to 42. (Another example of someone who put their house/property and ease before their own sinful condition was the famer in Luke 10:13-21. He pulled down his old barns and built much bigger ones so that he could retire in style. However he had failed to consider the eternal perspective.)
d. But hang on- you might say- Martha may have got her priorities the wrong away around, but the Lord did not rebuke her for owning a house, or even for having housekeeping as a priority. And surely the command in Romans chapter 12 and verse 13, ‘Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.’, cannot be fulfilled unless we have a home to be hospitable in!
e. Another fairly convincing argument for owning a house is presented throughout the accounts and letters amongst the early church. Homes belonging to Aquila and Priscilla (both in Rome and Corinth), Philemon, James and Titius Justus were all used to host the church. In fact, being situated next door to the local synagogue, Titius Justus’ home proved to be a fantastic spring board for Jew-based evangelism!
f. I think the final (and the clinching) point in favour is this: numerous NT Christians owned houses. I started a list… and then eventually stopped because it was proving quite long! Examples include: Acts 10:30, 12:12, 16:32, 18:7, 21:8, 21:16, 28:14, Romans 16:3-5, Philippians 4:21 (?), Philemon 2.
To be continued…