Even in North America, a few have forsaken church buildings. They abandon what they call “the organized” church because they have been hurt, or because they see corruption of various sorts. To escape all that, they meet in their homes. However, Spurgeon takes a different approach to the idea of churches in our homes. He uses these verses to prompt his thoughts.
Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philemon 1–3)From this, Spurgeon asks his readers about their homes. He wants to know if parents, children, friends, servants and all members of each home are saved and part of the universal church, or are some still unconverted?
This question is dear to my heart. Even though only my husband and I live in this home, we have family members who are not part of the church of Jesus Christ. As Spurgeon says, how would this father’s heart leap for joy, and this mother’s eyes fill with holy tears if from the eldest to the youngest all were saved!
We have prayed for unsaved family members for many years, looking to the great mercy of the Lord until He works in their lives. In the case of Philemon, he may have had a deep desire for the salvation of all his household, including a servant named Onesimus. This man wronged him and ran away from his service. No doubt his master’s prayers followed him. At last, as God would have it, Onesimus was led to hear Paul preach and his heart was touched. He returned to Philemon, this time as a faithful servant, but more; he was now a beloved brother in Christ, adding another member to the Church in Philemon’s house.
Our children will likely never move back home, and many of our relatives will never live under the same roof as we do, but there are unconverted among them. For these, I pray that God will bring them to Himself, so that we are part of the same church, the Body of Christ who worship God in spirit and in truth.
Spurgeon has more words about the church that is in a home. He says it must be ordered well. Believers are the most challenged and our faith (or lack of it) the most evident in our homes. We must deal with the common affairs of life in holiness, diligence, kindness, and integrity. I agree.
More is expected of a church home (a Christian home) than of an ordinary household. Our family worship ought to be devout and from the heart. Our love ought to be warm and unbroken. All external conduct ought to be sanctified and Christlike. Home is not the place where we can “be ourselves” and the larger church the place to be “pious.” The church in our home is the place where our Christian faith and integrity are tested and revealed. If we cannot be obedient to God in our homes, how can we be effective in Christian service in the larger church?
*********Lord, in our home the congregation is only two, at least most of the time. Yet You have told me that the way I behave in my home is the truest reflection of my faith. In some ways, this thought gives me joy for You have helped me so much to be a more godly wife and mother. Yet I am also convicted and must confess how often I fall short of godliness in this church that is in our home. As I bring my failures and disobedience to You, I know You forgive and cleanse, but I also know the importance of being like Jesus in daily living. Even if my unsaved family were not observing me, You offer grace and peace that I might walk with You in every thing that I do, bringing You glory and magnifying Your name.