By Barbara Rainey
First posted on EverThineHome.com
Have you ever visited an American Embassy while traveling in a foreign country?
You can’t miss it: Old Glory flaps proudly in the overseas air. As you walk through the doors, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and other national hero paintings welcome you “home.” It’s familiar, and it’s also safe. Once on your embassy’s soil, you are governed by the laws of your home country.
If you are traveling, you head to the American Embassy for help; the staff are there to ensure American citizens are protected and cared for in a faraway land.
Did you know that your home is an embassy too?
In this weary and wavering world, Paul exhorts us, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20). That isn’t just a command for when we’re in the workplace or out running errands. It’s a definition of who God has designed us to be. All the time. Everywhere. Even at home.
And that makes your home an embassy.
We belong to another realm, another place, another King.
Have you ever thought that your home may be one of your best opportunities to reach and influence people for Christ? So many people today are longing for a place where they are loved and encouraged. A place where they feel comfortable and not judged. Your home can be that place.
Yet too often most of us wait to invite others into our home until the right time ... when the rooms are clean, a meal is ready, the children are well-behaved, or we have free time. But … remember … our homes do not belong to us. They are given to us by God to steward for His purposes. Instead of waiting for the right moment, we should expect God to use our homes, His embassy, to put Him on display in the dailyness of life to anyone who enters or comes near.
Though I am an American, I am first and foremost a follower of Jesus Christ, a child of the King. He wants to rule in my heart but also in my home, His outpost in this foreign land.
Just like the American Embassy waves the flag to declare safety and comfort within, we need signs and sounds and recipes and attitudes that declare our home is the King’s domain, an embassy of the King. When the UPS man delivers, when neighbors stroll by, when guests arrive at your home, what is your goal? Do you want them only to see inside only when things are perfect, or do you listen to your King’s voice reminding you who you belong to? Does your family belong to Yahweh? If yes, then your home is an embassy and He wants to use you and what He’s given you to make Him known.
Here are five ways to practically make your home His embassy:
1. Practice hospitality.
First, hospitality is not the same as entertaining. It is an attitude of welcoming, of having a purposeful open-door policy that invites others in as God leads.
Early church Christians felt so strongly about using our homes to provide a place of belonging that the Benedict of Narcissi made specific rules about the way visitors to the Benedictine Monastery would be treated. For example, every visitor was to be greeted in a way that displayed to him the gentleness of the reverence of God and the warmth of God’s love—a welcome that declared the visitor a gift from God. The porter was to say to every visitor, “We are so grateful God has brought you to us.”
How would you feel if you were greeted at a friend’s house that way?
The monks knew that the way we answer the door is the way we deal with the world. Walking across your home’s threshold, any guest and even your family should feel, “You’re in the household of God, made up of ordinary people who have been transformed by Jesus Christ.”
Friends of ours, Dave and Lida, empty nesters living in a four-bedroom home, keep their extra bedrooms clean and ready to be filled with whoever might need them. Dave and Lida heard of a patient who was traveling frequently to the local children’s hospital for specialized care, so they offered the patient and his family a free stay in their home for the duration of the treatments. It was a great gift of love and compassion for a little family dealing with big medical bills and stress.
2. Love your neighbors.
If you are like most others in America, you probably know only a few of your neighbors ... and perhaps none of them. Research recently showed that most Americans (57 percent) say they know “only some” of their neighbors; 23 percent of those aged 18-29 and 15 of those between 30-49 said they knew none at all.
Instead of sitting in front of the TV after dinner, take a slow stroll down your street. Say hello to everyone you pass and look for opportunities to talk. Don’t hide behind your backyard fence. Let your kids play in the driveway and front yard too; invite the neighbor kids over to play in your yard. Trade lawn responsibilities when someone is out of town, collect mail, roll their trash can out to the curb.
One family hosted a cul-de-sac cookout when they moved into a new neighborhood. It was so much fun that their neighborhood continued with Bunco night, summer cookouts, Halloween game night, and even a carnival.
Loving our neighbors is often easier than we imagine. The possibilities are endless. Ask God to help you get to know those He has planted near your home, His embassy.
3. Keep an open-door policy for anyone who needs a listening ear.
I’m inspired by a woman I saw in an online video who calls her home an embassy. She says she is always prepared for anyone who might stop by. She sees her home as a hideaway any time of day or night for anyone in need.
Some friends and family call ahead to schedule their visits; others drop by unannounced when the day gets too long and too hard without the support of a friend. This woman declares that the drop-ins are the best because she knows the Holy Spirit sent them. Fully unprepared for these visits, she relies solely on the Holy Spirit’s leading as she listens and consoles her guests.
The question in our always busy fast-paced world is: Are we paying attention to our King who might be asking us to linger with someone who might need to talk even though we feel like we don’t have time? The story of the five loaves and two fish (John 6:1-14) reminds us that God has no trouble multiplying our time and our resources if we are living for and listening to Him.
4. Decorate with meaningful truth.
Deuteronomy 6:8-9 instructs believers to keep God’s words and commands ever before us: “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” For years I’ve encouraged people to apply these words by making the reality of Jesus visible in their home.
In our home embassy, I have several of my favorite verses framed and hanging in various places. I have ornaments with the names of Jesus hanging on lamp switches and on a nob on a drawer. My front door always has a plaque or a banner with a verse or a reference to the King who reigns in my life and my home. It’s not hard to find or make these visual declarations that Deuteronomy commands.
For more ideas, be sure to look at the Ever Thine Home Etsy store for digital prints, artwork, a beautiful “I Am” calendar, and more, including one of my favorite verses, Isaiah 33:6. If you don’t know what it says, go to the Etsy store and look for it! It’s been one of our top 10 bestsellers for a long time.
5. Host small-group gatherings.
Sure, your church, local coffee shop and community buildings have plenty of meeting space, but inviting friends into your home is far more welcoming. We learn more about our friends and others when we spend time with them in their space.
Next time you’re planning a gathering, birthday party, or family event, volunteer your home. It doesn’t mean you have to do all the work; you can delegate.
Your home is an embassy of the King.
There are countless ways to love those around you in the setting of your home. Even the smallest strides toward declaring your home a representation and refuge of our King will honor the One who has provided your family with a residence able to serve Him through serving others.
I wrote a small book years ago about making your home an embassy for the Lord - My Home His Embassy. It is no longer in print, but we have made it available in an ebook format. It is included with your Friends & Family subscription or if you aren't a subscriber you can buy one for $5.99. The best option is to subscribe to Friends & Family and get My Home His Embassy along with ALL the new content including my new Bible study - Cultivating Hope in Times of Hardship and Disappointment for only $5 a month.
Adapted from an article on FamilyLife.com Used with permission.
Be sure to watch the inspiring video “The Embassy” at the website for Deidox Films—you can view if you open a free account.
My Heart, Ever His: Prayers for Women (NEW from Barbara Rainey)
As we search for meaning in our world of shallow online relationships and glamorized selfies, many are returning to traditional and liturgical churches. The repeated words, benedictions, and historic hymns connect us to saints who have gone before, giving us a sense of belonging, richness, and transcendence. Written prayers, once cast off as archaic, are now welcomed as guides to tune our hearts to the heart of God.
In My Heart, Ever His Barbara Rainey shares 40 prayers for women. Readers can read and meditate on one prayer throughout the week or read a prayer a day for 40 days as a way to express the longing of our hearts to our Father who loves us even as he sees who we truly are. Like the psalms of David, these prayers are honest, sometimes raw. Barbara uses these transparent expressions of common female experiences to encourage us to surrender to Christ and help us see God as he is, not as we assume him to be. My Heart, Ever His provides a stepping-stone to help you become more transparent with God and discover his welcoming embrace.
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