[Column] Stay in the House of the Father

Stay in the House of the Father

Written By Rev.Dr. Joshua Hong

Senior Pastor of Full Gospel Church of Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.

 

When He was twelve, Jesus went to Jerusalem with His parents on Passover (Luke 2:41-42). After traveling for a day, His parents realized He was missing and started looking for Him. Three days later, the parents were reunited with Jesus at a temple in Jerusalem. As He heard their concerns and was asked why He had done this, He responded, “How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? (Luke 2:49)” Though He was a child of small stature, Jesus knew how proper and important it was to stay in the temple of God. Furthermore He heard and inquired the Word of God during His stay. However, the Bible tells us that His parents did not understand Jesus’ sayings right away (Luke 2:50).

There are those who distinguish between believing in God and serving church, which is the house of the Father. Such a notion is false. As we receive life, nurture, rest, and love from our parents and grow in a family, Christians receive spiritual life and experience love, growth, and happiness at church. Today many people wander spiritually and emotionally because they have left the house of the Father. Like Jesus, we have to stay in the house of the Father.

It is said that former President Jimmy Carter has never missed Sunday school since he was five and gave a weekly donation of five cents. Born of a farmer’s son, Carter live in a country town. The boy who worked in a peanut field did not just give money to church for no reason. He did it for the missionaries in China. God personally led his way to become state governor and later President.  How busy he must have been during Presidential campaign? To win more votes, he could have gone to a bigger church. Instead he returned to his small home church in Georgia and taught Sunday school even during his campaign. He had taught Sunday school for 23 years with perfect attendance. About 70 reporters rushed to him one Sunday for an interview. Purportedly Carter told them, “Thank you for coming. I hope you’ll attend a church service from next Sunday.”

Aside from immeasurable grace he was given through his service to church, he was given another blessing. God helped him establish formal diplomatic relations with China and obtain agreement to three propositions. They are as follows: First, unrestricted distribution of the Bible throughout China, where Christianity was abandoned for 50 years. Second, freedom of worship that had been banned evening underground or anywhere. Third, acceptance of missionaries for freely witnessing the Gospel. China agreed to all three. God realized Carter’s childhood dreams. God made him President to open the door of missions, bring back worships, and enabled reading of the Scriptures freely. Thus President Carter made a significant contribution to lead China closer to the kingdom of God. God accepted meager yet grateful offering by a little boy every Sunday and remembered his desires of a little boy. Our Heavenly Father keeps and protects our lives like the pupil of the eye.

It is important to love church. She is the community of faith and the ark of salvation. One of the greatest Christians and theologians, St. Augustinus emphasized the role of church as the channel of salvation. He wrote, “Unflaggingly, let us love the Lord our God and let us love his Church. Let us love Him as the Lord and the Church as his handmaid. No one can offend the one and still be pleasing to the other. What does it avail you if you do not directly offend the Father but do offend the mother?” Church is not merely a building. She is the community of the faithful and the house of God the Father. She is also the body of Christ. By His blood, He built the Church.

For this reason, St Paul writes concerning church, “This is a great mystery (Ephesians 5:32).” Church is where orphans meet God the Father. Church is where widows meet their husband Jesus Christ. Church is where those who are hurt and desolate transform into new beings by the joy of the Holy Spirit. You and I may fall short of God’s glory and people may be imperfect. Nevertheless church is the house where God abides. May God abundantly bless us as we love and serve church fervently.

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