A few weeks ago, my brother James texted me a photo of the house we grew up in. I hadn’t seen the place in years, having moved about a thousand miles south. The home looked terrible. A paint job was long overdue, siding was falling off, and several obvious repairs were needed—and that’s just what I could see from the outside.
In practical terms, the house is just a building, a late 1970s colonial prone to decay and corruption. Every home I’ve had is like this. Of course, not every house is falling apart. Some have been kept, improved, even expanded. Others have stayed pretty much the same over the years. A few, like this house I knew as a teenager, have seen better days. But all of them are temporary. Each one is slowly declining, as time and the elements do their thing.
The early chapters of Genesis are a reminder that the situation wasn’t always this way. We were made for a permanent home—one that never breaks down, falls apart, or withers away. Humanity’s first home was with God in Eden. In a tragic turn, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and found themselves feeling the early stages of decay and corruption. Along with our first parents, we were banished from the garden.
The rest of the Bible tells the story of our misguided attempts to get back to Eden on our own terms, while God patiently makes a way for us to return on His. And this, of course, is why Jesus came. He made a home on earth so that we might someday make our home once again in Paradise with God. It is no coincidence that the Bible is bookended by two gardens—Eden in Genesis and New Jerusalem, a garden city, in Revelation.
Our longing for home goes beyond a desire for different geography. It surfaces every time we sin. We feel the sting of disobedience, the way Adam and Eve did. Genesis tells us, “they knew they were naked” and covered themselves (3:7). No matter how many fig leaves they could have collected, it would never have been enough, so naturally, they hid when they heard God coming their way. Our sin leaves us feeling exposed as well, and filthy. In Psalm 51, King David says what we all feel after we taste the remorse of our sin:
Completely wash away my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin….
Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me and I will be whiter than snow (vv.2,7).
The only way to be made clean again is through divine intervention. Though our hearts might prompt us to hide as Adam and Eve did, it’s the wrong move. We need the touch of our heavenly Father, closeness with God rather than isolation from Him. We cannot, and will not, do that on our own, so Jesus came to us with the Father’s love.
In Psalm 16, David says to God, “In your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures” (v.11). God’s presence—it’s our home, it’s what we were made for, and thanks be to Jesus, it’s our destiny.
Written by John Greco