But know this: whenever former strangers and aliens come home with all their vagabond baggage and plop down to “do life” together, it’s not always going to be pretty. It’s going to look like normal home life.
Home is, after all, the place where you are to be truly known and truly loved. In our heart of hearts, this is what we all want. But to know that reality truly, we have to take a risk, the risk of being known. For many of us, the risk is too great. We are afraid of rejection, so we act like or pretend to be someone we’re not—someone we think that will be acceptable—in order to be loved (or at least liked).
In other words, our fear leads us to act fake. And whenever we do that, the old lost and lonely feelings of stranger and alien come rushing back. The old realities of isolation and estrangement show up again because we’re acting again like aliens and strangers within the body of Christ, among the people whom God calls our family.
When we let our union with Jesus Christ drive our communion with one another, something supernatural happens. We begin to find our place among the household of God. Our church experience becomes increasingly homelike. In Paul’s words, we are “built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22).
Did you catch that? You and me—we are a “dwelling place for God.” God makes His home among us. When you hear that, do you think of the temple in the Old Testament? That’s exactly what Paul wants you to think of. But more than pointing to the grand edifice that Solomon built, Paul is showing us an even more beautiful home, one that is built on the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus the cornerstone. We are the living stones growing together into a home for God (Eph. 2:20–22; 1 Peter 2:4–8).
That’s exactly what happened in the Old Testament. After Solomon built the temple, we’re told, “a cloud filled the house of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:10). God came to live among His people. In a more profound way, God made His home among us through the incarnation of Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Not a physical house of bricks and mortar, but in us and with us, the people of God.
And in the church’s assemblies, God meets with us. As He did in Acts 2, when the old pillar of fire by night and pillar of cloud by day showed up in a fresh but familiar way atop the heads of the disciples. And the disciples spoke in foreign tongues, so men and women from different cultural, national, ethnic, and religious backgrounds—strangers and aliens—could in the gospel of Jesus Christ be made fellow citizens and members of the household of God.
Do you want to draw closer to God? Then draw close to His church. Attend worship weekly. Gather regularly for fellowship. Serve faithfully the needs of Christ’s body. Commit your life to God’s people. For among His people, God is pleased to dwell.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on November 25, 2020.