I’ve always wanted to live in Scotland.
Although my family has lived in North America for over 250 years, I am well aware Scotland is where we came from. And if you think that’s a lousy reason to go back – you’re probably right. In reality, I’m not sure Scotland and I would become best friends.
Its cold, wet weather would test my patience to the extreme. For another, there is barely a Scot alive who knows how to bake pumpkin pie.
I should stick to the part of the world I know. Yet, this doesn’t change my experience. Whether it’s sentimentality or something more, there is a very real part of me that wants to go ‘home.’ The Christian faith has long observed a similar experience in the heart.
The French philosopher, Blaise Pascal, for example, said that, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man.”
The author of the Biblical book, Ecclesiastes, wrote that God has, “Set eternity in the human heart.” Both expressed that humans instinctively know something is not quite right in this world, and that we will not be satisfied until it is. In their opinions, we were born homesick.
But, assuming they were right, what would home look like, once found?
Christians commonly describe it as a heavenly city that cannot be fully defined. But, there is an enormous part of our society with little interest in any such hope. They believe themselves to desire that which is inherently known by all to be good: fair government, fair economy, fair opportunity—in this life!
Can this be compatible with the Christian expectation of home? I believe so.
One of the fascinating events in Canadian history is the emergence of the ‘Quebecois.’ The term was popularized when the secular government of Quebec appropriated much of the Roman Catholic church’s role in the public life of that province. This is to say that, up until the 1960s, most of Quebec’s social services had been administered by the church.
Education, health care, social assistance all fell under the church’s purview. But, as Quebec rapidly secularized, it was determined the government, not the church, ought to oversee such things from then on.
My interest in this subject has little to do with whether these events were good or bad. What does interest me is why the church was doing what it was doing in the first place. Why were these people so involved in shaping the social fabric?
The answer is many of them were longing for home. Ingrained within us are convictions regarding how the world ought to be. When we find our convictions in conflict with reality, we are hurt, and the best of us work hard to remedy what we can.
For all the faults of the church, this is the fervent motivation behind countless gracious servants within Quebec’s Catholic congregations – and the church-at-large – who have laboured to improve public life. On the other hand, it is the same motivation for endless folks who do not profess the Christian God.
Let me put it this way, to avoid being misunderstood: my Christian hope is I will experience ‘home’ in the fullest sense of the word.
I work to establish home in the here and now; in tangibles that bring positive change to the everyday lives of myself and those around me. I cannot wait until Christ comes to complete this work, as I believe only he can. And so, Christian or not, I ask you, is it home that you’ve been longing for, as well? And, if it is, how are you planning to find it?
Jamie Veitch is the Pastor of Small Groups and Leadership Development at Lacombe Pentecostal.
IN GOOD FAITH