Taking care of a house is like taking care of a life. From time to time you become aware of something that needs fixed, touched up— even remodeled. Before pulling out of my driveway recently I glanced back toward my house. My attention was drawn to a small area just beneath the kitchen door I’d been meaning to touch up. You know— that door trim could use a fresh coat of paint and how long has that gutter been hanging loose? In an instant or two, I had managed to find myself adding a number of “to do’s” to the list I hadn’t gotten around to doing! Funny, I thought, just a week ago an old friend stopped by and remarked how nice the house looked and here I was finding a list of faults a mile long.
A number of observations came to my mind very quickly. First, nobody knows my house like I do. I live there every day of my life. Most mornings I wake up in it, walk through it, observe it closely and even help Terri clean it up after the grandkids come to visit. Secondly, nobody looks at my house like I do. I notice things no one else does. I know what’s behind the paintings on the wall and behind the books on the shelf. I know where the wiring and plumbing run. Lastly, it occurred to me that no one is responsible for my house like I am. It’s my name on the deed, the tax bill and the mailbox. I’m pretty sure that it is unlikely I could persuade my neighbor to pay my electric bill. You see, it’s my house.
Yet the spiritual applications fill my mind as I quickly consider the similarities in comparing my physical house to my spiritual house. In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth, he reminds us, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”
So, with that perspective in mind let me again state nobody knows my house like I do. I live there and regardless of what anyone else thinks of me, I know what’s really on the inside. Others may see me in a certain light but I know who I really am. Henry Wingblade used to say that Christian personality is hidden deep inside us. It is unseen like the soup carried in a tureen high over a waiter’s head. No one knows what’s inside—unless the waiter is bumped and he trips! Just so, people don’t know what’s inside us until we’ve been bumped. Eventually who we are shows.
This leads me to my second comparison. Nobody sees my house like I do. I notice things no one else does. Think about it, when you look in the mirror at yourself you see things no one else notices. You are looking at things no one else is looking for. This leads me to my last consideration. I said earlier that no one is responsible for my house like I am. If there is ever a truth to be stated it’s this: I will account for me and no one else. This is not merely about bricks and mortar; this is about soul & spirit. My life here and my life in eternity are my responsibility and no one else’s.
Master communicator, Stacy Foster tells the story, “High in the Himalayan mountains lived a wise old man. Periodically, he ventured down into the local village to entertain the villagers with his special knowledge and talents. A few young boys from the village decided to play a joke on the wise old man and discredit his special abilities. One boy came up with the idea to capture a bird and hide it in his hands. Knowing the wise old man would correctly state the object in his hands, the boy would ask the old man if the bird was dead or alive. If the wise man said the bird was alive, the boy would crush the bird in his hands, so that when he opened his hands the bird would be dead. But, If the wise man said the bird was dead, the boy would open his hands and let the bird fly free. So, no matter what the old man said, the boy would prove the old man a fraud. The following week, the wise old man came down from the mountain into the village. The boy quickly caught a bird and cupping it out of sight in his hands, walked up to the wise old man and asked, “what is it that I have in my hands?” The wise old man said, “You have a bird, my son.” And he was right. The boy then asked, “tell me: Is the bird alive or is it dead?” The wise old man looked at the boy, thought for a moment and said, “The bird is as you choose it to be.” Just like me the future of your house depends upon you!
Tim Throckmorton is the former executive pastor for Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio, and Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene. He is currently senior pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.