Why Are You Here?
Charles Colson, founder and former president of Prison Fellowship, International, answers it by saying, “the true meaning of being a Christian (is)—to love God and to love one another.” If we are not here to love, why are we here?
To be entertained? To get rich?
To build a castle or an empire for ourselves that we can feel at home in?
As a resident alien in this country, I’ve been thinking a lot about a related question, one which two disciples asked Jesus, “Where do you live? (or ‘stay’)” (John 1:38). Paradoxically, I think the two questions—“Why are you here?” and “Where do you live?” converge in the answer.
In my own experience, I’ve seen many Filipinos migrate to America and fight their way up the “success” ladder, even buying expensive SUV’s and heavily mortgaged homes, only to become culturally and spiritually homeless, some even bankrupt.
On the other hand, through the grace of God, not my own virtue, I sold a 4-bedroom house and a condominium as part of my move here to marry a Filipina, Myrna Sison, Ph.D., and live in her little place, a shack by comparison, and never have been so happy!
All this has prompted me to really reflect on Jesus’ words in John 15, He who dwells (or makes his home) in me, as I dwell in him, bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. In John 14 Jesus says, Anyone who loves me will heed what I say; then my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him; but he who does not love me does not heed what I say. Jesus also said, My sheep hear my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. (John 10.)
Two quotes spring to mind, Home is where the heart is, (i.e., what we center our thoughts and feelings on) and an old spiritual, This world is not my home, I’m justa passing through; my home is laid up, somewhere beyond the blue.
At times, I must confess, I didn’t fully believe this; for a while In the 80’s I owned 25 apartments, but I never got much happiness, or the joy that Jesus promised (John 15:11) from them. I never enjoyed being a landlord; I enjoyed teaching students in Fresno City College and talking to guys in the jail. They typically really missed their families, and even felt homeless, so I wrote a poem for them:
The New Family. (Read Matt. 12:46-50)
It seems so heavy, this emptiness when all are gone,
When all those you’ve loved are underground,
Or behind a wall that’s thicker than these of steel and stone,
Or promising to be there for you, but hanging up the phone.
It feels so heavy, this emptiness when you’re down,
And most all the ones around you only know the fire
of lust and using. (They taunt you with the gods they’ve found,
but their contagious heaviness is hell—the tail-end of desire.)
If seems so heavy when your “friends and family” never show.
But then, think of what the Master did: find others who will lend
a hand and stretch their sense of kin. Pray for new family here below;
Make new friends as brothers, father, mother who will bend
To help you weep, for Jesus wept. Then let the Spirit—dove
lift your load, and link your heart to others learning how to love.
Some inmates discovered the joy of a new home: knowing God in Christ, and doing his will.
How about you? Remember, “home is where the heart is,” and He’s only a prayer away!