Saint Paul wrote: “If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” [Philippians 1:22-23]
We are home from our 50th high school reunion. Having not been back where we grew up for over a decade, we were not really prepared for the massive changes. We drove past a house we had built in 1981 and saw that the trees we planted had grown to be massive. We looked for familiar restaurants, but they were long closed, the buildings no longer in existence. Yes, we were able to enjoy an old favorite, hamburgers with a side of fried zucchini, but the other places we wanted to stop were gone.
Our lives continue, changes happen. Paul was in prison for proclaiming the truth that Christ Jesus, who is true God and true man, died to redeem sinful mankind from the punishment of their sin. Paul was in prison for declaring that “by grace you have been saved through faith.” [Ephesians 2:8a] This word of hope has always been rejected by this world.
But we are in the world, if but for a short time. At the reunion, we were shocked to learn that almost one quarter of our classmates are no longer living. Age and accidents have taken their toll. Yet even for those who are still here, those with whom we chatted during the events of the reunion weekend, the home town is no longer home.
As Christians, we long for our true home, to be with Christ. Because of His death and resurrection, we are assured of the forgiveness of sins. Where there is forgiveness, there is life everlasting. We really are not part of this world, but long for the true home, that which has been prepared by Christ Jesus for those who are saved by grace alone.
While we were in the hometown, we really didn’t fit in. While we are in this world, we don’t fit in. Paul, proclaiming God’s rich love and mercy as found in Christ Jesus alone did not fit in. So we long to depart, to be with Christ.
Yet we are still in this world, still interacting with those who reject the message of salvation. We strive to serve God by serving our neighbors, reflecting His love for all people.
So, we are back in the more familiar places, that which we now call home, realizing that even here we really are temporary tenants. We look forward to our heavenly home even as we enjoy this home where God has placed us.
May you find comfort in knowing that heaven awaits, be it soon or be it in the far future. May God bless you with the assurance that your sins are forgiven for the sake of Christ, and for His sake you have the promise of life everlasting.