Lost and Found
I heard an amazing story recently about a young boy in India who accidentally got separated from his brother and ended up lost. His name is Saroo Munshi Khan. He survived on the streets for weeks then was eventually taken into an orphanage where he was later adopted by an Australian family and grew up in Hobart, Tasmania. He was happy yet had this longing for home. Twenty-six years later, he found his way back to his hometown with the help of Google Earth where he was re-united with his family.
In many ways, we are all a bit like Saroo. We are lost people longing and searching for something, trying to find our way back HOME. Humans are restless. We have inner yearnings; cravings to belong, to connect, to find meaning and to contribute. For many people this leads them sooner or later to search for God. Saint Augustine once said, “You have made us for yourself and our hearts find no peace until they rest in you.” An ancient songwriter wrote, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water (Psalm 63:1).” A notable sage observed that, “God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). There is a God-shaped vacuum in the human heart that only He can fill. C.S. Lewis described it this way: “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” More recently, the band U2 expressed it in their classic song: “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”
Jesus came to call all those who are LOST (who have drifted from the Garden) to come HOME. The Cross is the place where the LOST can be FOUND and come HOME to the Father. The entire biblical and redemptive story is about God calling His people HOME. Then WE become his HOME … now and one day more fully (see Revelation 21:3). The apostle Paul puts it like this:
You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You're no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He's using us all - irrespective of how we got here - in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he's using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day - a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home. (Ephesians 2:19-22. Message Bible)
We find our home in God and then he makes his home in us, his people. The church is to be a home for those who have come to experience the Father’s love, sons and daughters of God. It is where we are to experience a spiritual family as God intended it.
We each have different things come to mind when we hear the word “home”. For some it is a physical place while for others it connects them more to an experience. We use phrases such as: “Home sweet home”, “A home away from home”, “Make yourself at home”, “Home-sick”, “No place like home” and “Homelessness”. Both positive and negative experiences can take place in what we call home.
We also have different things come to mind where you hear the word “church”. Like a family, no church is perfect. Each church has its own mix of healthy and dysfunctional aspects. Each of us has a range of both positive and possibly negative experiences with church. At CityLife, we want to be the very best church we can. Each church has its own unique personality and culture. During this series, we’ll be looking at some aspects of the kind of church we believe God wants us to be, including qualities such as welcome, love, community, contribution, mission, generosity and gratitude. We have a dream that is gradually becoming a reality. Of course, it requires us to stop just ‘going’ to church and start ‘being’ the church.
What about YOU?
As you think about today’s message, what is God saying to you?
1. Maybe you feel spiritually lost and sense that longing for home. God put that cry in your heart and he’s the one calling you to himself. Offer your life to him today. Come to the foot of the cross and lay your burden down. Start following Jesus today.
2. Maybe you do have a church home. You may have been there for years or maybe you are quite new. They say, “Home is where the heart is”. It’s easy to take for granted our home and what we have together. Ask God to give you a fresh heart of love for your church home. See it with new eyes. Commit yourself to work to make it the best home it can be. After all, we tend to get out of something what we put into it.
3. Maybe you’ve been treating your church more like a hotel than a home. It’s so easy to become a consumer of spiritual goods and services. We can come along to be served, critique the service then move on if we find something better up the road. That’s not what God intended. Jesus designed church to be a home – a family of people doing life together with God in the midst of them, not just a place we visit or an event we attend. Is it time to move from being an attender to becoming a member?
While praying for our church recently, I sensed the Lord speak two challenges into my heart:
1. “Re-dig the wells!” There is a story in Genesis where Isaac had to re-dig the wells his father had initially opened up but that had been filled with debris by his enemies (Genesis 26:15-18). He also took time to dig new wells of fresh water. Water speaks of the life of the Spirit. To be the home God intends us to be requires an increase in spiritual vitality. For that to happen we each have to re-dig our wells and ensure nothing is blocking God’s life in us, lest we become spiritually dry and of no use to anyone. You are the keeper of your spring.
2. “Go fishing!” I‘ve been doing some very amateur fishing lately. I don’t know a lot yet but I do know that when the tide turns the fish move and that’s when you are most likely to get a catch. Spiritually, you can feel the tide turning in our society and people are most open to God during those times of transition and also pain. The church is not here for us; we are here for the world. Our purpose is not to be entertained or become more comfortable, but to engage together towards our vision of seeing over 10,000 stories of transformation over these next few years. To do that, we all need to go fishing. Who is God moving on nearby you at the moment? Who is God calling home, that you could help show the way?
Sample Reflection Questions
1. Reflect on your own experiences of HOME throughout the stages of your life.
2. Where do you feel most at home? What is your favourite place? Why?
3. What has been your experience of church? In what ways can it be like a “home”?
4. Read the church’s We Have a Dream statement. What part excites you the most? What part do you think needs the most attention right now?
5. Consider the three possible responses to this message. Which one may apply to you right now?
6. Mediate on the two prophetic words. Which one spoke to you the most? How can you respond to it personally?
7. Spend some time praying – for yourself, for family and friends, and your church.