In 1851 an American official was sent on government business to the continent of Africa. He remained there one year and died. He was laid to rest in a lonely cemetery in that land. Thirty-one years later, as an act of a grateful public, the United States sent a battleship to the African coast; American hands opened that grave, placed the dust of this body on board the battleship, and returned to America.
The ship’s arrival on this side of the waters was welcomed by a salute from the coastal guns and by a display of flags at half-mast. The casket was carried to the na- tion’s capitol city; all government offices were closed for the day; and the president, congressmen, judges of the Supreme Court, officers of the army and navy, as well as thousands of civilians lined the streets and stood with bowed heads as this man’s body was carried down Pennsylvania Avenue.
To whom did they thus pay tribute? What great book had he written? What speech had he delivered? What battle had he won? What enemy had he conquered? What building had he erected? None of these things had been in the life of this man. But when only thirty years of age, this then-unknown man had written a song which was destined to become the best-loved ballad in all American music. It was to be sung by high and low, by rich and poor and made for its author a place forever in the hearts of his countryman. The man was John Howard Payne, and his song was “Home Sweet Home”.
What Does “Home” Mean To You?
The word “home” originally meant house, but home is more than just a house in which to live, surrounded by the comforts and luxuries of life. What is your definition of the word “home”?
A gospel preacher once asked a group of children that question. One little fellow re-
plied, “Home is where we eat.” A young girl of high school age said, “Home is where we go between midnight and daylight when everything else is closed up.” This same preacher put the question to a group of women. One lady timidly replied, “Home is where we slave the hardest and are appreciated the least.” And a man, on being asked the question, said, “Home is where we fight our private battles.”
A poet has defined “home” like this:
“Home is where the heart is, In dwellings great or small. There is many a stately mansion That isn’t a home at all.
And a cottage lighted with love light Is the dearest home of all.”
Some old clippings from a religious journal give these further definitions of home: “Home — the place where a world of strife is shut out and a world of love is shut-in. Home — the place where the small are great, and the great small.
Home — the Father’s kingdom, the mother’s world, the child’s paradise. Home — the place where we grumble the most and are treated the best.
Home — the center of our affections, round which our hearts best wishes twine.
Home — the place where our stomachs get three meals a day and our hearts a thousand
blessings— the very vestibule of heaven itself.”
“Home” As God Would Have It The home as God would have it is a Christian home. What is a Christian home? Well, a Christian has responded to Christ. A Christian has been born again, having heard the gospel, had faith produced in his heart by it, and has been baptized into Christ. A Christian home, then, would be one where both Father and mother are Christians and children are being reared in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. A Christian home is one in which all those old enough to become Christians have done so, and those not yet old enough to understand the gospel are in subjection to the loving rule and care of Christian parents.
The home as God would have it is where one finds loyalty to Christian principles. It is a home imbued with the spirit of Christ. It is a home from which the influence for God and righteousness may be radiated into the whole community round about. In a sense, it becomes a model from which every other home in the community may seek to learn and live. It is at ype of heaven itself. When Jesus told his disciples what the heavenly home was like, he described it in terms of a home; God, being the Father, and all those in the “Father’s house’ being obedient sons and daughters.
A Christian home is one in which character is developed patterned after that of Jesus Christ. There is no place for bickering, jealousies, backbiting, partialities, and such in Christian homes. On the contrary, there is loyalty to the principles of pure and undefiled religion.
There is nothing more desperately needed in our nation today than to have homes such as this. There is nothing more urgently needed in the church of the Lord than for its members to be living in and coming from homes of that character. There is scarcely a problem the local church has which would not be solved overnight if the members making up the congregation all had that sort of background in the homes from which they came. If we can have the homes “as God would have them,” we’ve gone a long way toward having “the church as God would have it,” for in a sense, the two are inseparable. If the church is ever to be the power God wants her to be, it can happen only when the homes from which members come are homes in which Christ is truly the center of all that goes on in the family.