It hit me when I was already at my doorstep. I had left my house keys at the office.
This has never happened before, perhaps it was because I was having a bad day. I couldn’t imagine going all the way back to the city center. It was 6 pm — the traffic will be unbearable. But what choice did I have?
I remembered it when I was at the main gate, on my way out. I had a spare key in the house! I hoped against hope that I could get to it — if only I could remember where I had last seen it. Desperate times call for desperate measures. After wracking my brain trying to retrace my steps in the last couple of days, I recalled that I had put the key in one of my jeans trouser pockets.
Perhaps you’re wondering how a key inside the pocket of a dirty trouser in a basin somewhere inside a locked house was going to help me. Reaching it would be out of the question. But you see, it wasn’t.
This was my house. My space. My home.
The thing about my place is that it is not very organized (ducks). That was my first clue. I ran back up the stairs hoping against hope that I had done what came naturally — left my dirty trousers on the seat in the living room. After much improvisation, I was able to open the window and push aside the curtain. I have never been more happy to see dirty jeans on the couch.
I reached in using a wire, pulled the trousers towards me and retrieved my spare key. I didn’t have to make another trip all the way back to the office.
Some things only happen at home. I like to think that I am only disorganized at home, though perhaps my colleagues may argue the point. But I am not that tidy. Clean, yes. Tidy, debatable.
But that’s the beauty of home. You don’t have to impress anyone or live up to other people’s standards at home. At home, you can be yourself. You can walk around in your baggy, holy (not the Biblical holy) pajamas without a care in the world. Your family has seen worse and they can identify you by the smell of your sweat. It is only taboo to air your dirty linen in public; nobody said anything about airing it in your house.
I am still a bachelor, and I live alone. At my house, I am the cook, the cleaner, the electrician, the decorator, the political analyst, the bread winner and the bread eater. I am all things to all chores.
Home is also where I am an expert at everything, or rather, I don’t have to be an expert at anything.
Outside the home, there is pressure to excel in at least one thing. Sometimes it’s because our survival depends on it. Only good engineers get hired, and color-blind people don’t get to be professional camera-men.
But at home, I am content to simply be me. There’s no pressure to impress. My family knows me, and loves me anyway.
Of course there are those occasions where parents are perfectionists and children feel the need, or rather the pressure, to live up to their expectations. Yes, the home can be dysfunctional. In fact, it often is. Even so, no matter how common this exception is, it is still not the rule. East or west, home is best.
Charity begins at home because that’s where selfishness ends. At home, you don’t mind having less so that your brother may have some. When you’re at home, you don’t feel the pressure to measure up or keep up with the Joneses – you’re already a Jones.
The home gives us a glimpse of how life in the church ought to look like. It is an imperfect peek into the kind of realness, fragility and openness that the Body of Christ ought to depict within itself. No need to be an expert here, no pressure to impress, no compulsion to compete. You can sing to the LORD with your shower voice and won’t feel embarrassed. You are simply being you.
I am not saying that the church is the place we let our sins slide because the Body “will understand”. I am saying that the church, like home, is the place we let our sins out in the open because we know they are covered by the blood of Christ and the Body “will prop us”.
But even as I write that previous sentence, I feel the need to edit it and punctuate it with several “oughts”. The church ought to be like home.
Charity begins at home because charity begins in the family — which was God’s original design. Could charity also begin in the church? Is your church your home? Is the church your family?
Are you a member of your church because yo signed up and a committee approved or are you a member because you owned up your sin and God approved you through Christ?
If home is where the heart is, where is your heart?
Or could it be because the church is where your hurt is?