A beautiful leaflet dropped through our letter box the other day advertising a building project of homes to buy or rent, of such quality that would facilitate life as ‘communities’. No locations were mentioned, nor was the reader told what such a desirable dwelling would cost to rent or purchase. But, for people who wished to move from their current residences, the prospects seemed too wonderful to miss.
Their gospel of ideal homes
Here are some quotations from the brochure:
 ‘For the life you want to live, we’ve built the perfect place for you to live.’
 ‘Time well spent is a life well lived.’
 ‘A home is built from laughter and company.’
The ingredients they promise for a blissful home include:
a get-together at yours;
a boys’ night in;
a lively debate – [What? I’d have to contribute to a discussion?];
popping in for a natter – [But what if I get tongue-tied?];
sharing a joke – [Now, I’d be hopeless at that, wouldn’t I? (just kidding!];
cocktails in the lounge;
new best friends.
What Jesus is preparing for his people . . .
Near the climax of his earthly ministry our Lord spoke of his imminent heavenly ministry. ‘My Father’s house has many dwelling places. … I go to prepare a place for you to rest. And when everything is ready, I will come back and take you to myself so that you will be where I am’ (John 14:1-3 The Passion Translation).
These verses were often quoted from the King James Version in my boyhood years, the Lord’s return being a favourite theme in every Gospel Hall the world over. But while browsing through the leaflet about ideal homes I began to muse on those statements of Jesus and realised that he did come back in the new ministry of the Holy Spirit on that remarkable historic day of Pentecost – in order to prepare a community here among all nations – the foretaste of his return. When I took a longer look at John 14:1-3 in the TPT I discovered a couple of footnotes expressing that very same interpretation as in my own musings. Here they are – starting with two alternative translations of what Jesus was referring to:
‘”There are many resting places on the way to my Father’s house.” Or “”There are many homes in my Father’s households.” The Father’s house is also mentioned by Jesus in John 2:16, where it is his temple on earth, his dwelling-place. This is not just heaven, but the dwelling-place of God among men. There is ample room for people from every nation and ethnicity, room to spare, for the church, the body of Christ, is now the house of God. See 1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:21-22; 1 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 3:6; 1 Peter 2:5. Every believer is now one of the many dwelling places that make up God’s house (temple). See also verse 23.’
. . . and what he is preparing his people for
And John 14:23 TPT reads:
‘Jesus replied, “Loving me empowers you to obey my word. And my Father will love you so deeply that we will come to you and make you our dwelling-place.”‘
Another TPT footnote refers to John 14:3 –
‘The Greek verb used here, paralambano, is the word used for a bridegroom coming to take his bride. He takes us as his bride through his death and resurrection. His “coming back” can also refer to his “coming” to live within the believer.’
Earlier in his ministry our Lord had promised, ‘I will build my church’ (Matthew 16:18). He was offering community facilities similar to those in that secular brochure – for he did not intend church life to be a system of religion, or just a waiting room to heaven hereafter. Well, over the years I’ve enjoyed such community life, each a local base camp and I’ve visited many others within various cultures across the world.
‘Come, Lord Jesus’, not only eventually at your return, but now ‘in Spirit’ to prepare us personally and communally for that great day, Amen.