The God of ‘Place’

The God of ‘Place’

I serve on the Board of the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate.  The mission of Habitat for Humanity is:  “Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.”  The first of Habitat’s five core principles is to “demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ.”  This is not unlike our purposes at Construction Workers Christian Fellowship.  In fact, when I explain to people what we do, they often will say something like, “Oh, you mean CWCf is like Habitat for Humanity!”

Well, as stated on their website, “Habitat for Humanity partners with people … all over the world, to help them build or improve a place they can call home.”  CWCf, through RV’ers for Christ, partners with smaller churches, Christian camps, missionary agencies, and other Christian ministries to build and maintain facilities for use in fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.  And we work overseas as well – although not generally in our RV’s!

One way in which the two organizations are very similar is in our contribution of volunteer labor – “sweat equity” for the ministry that owns the facility.  Habitat-sponsored homeowners help to build their own homes alongside volunteers, and thanks to their investment in ‘sweat equity’, these new homeowners are able to pay an affordable mortgage.  And they create a place that can become a legacy for their children.  Our RV’ers come alongside ministry workers to create places for ministry to happen.

So, both Habitat and CWCf are about demonstrating God’s love through helping hands creating a place called ‘home’ – whether it’s a home for a family or a ‘home’ for a ministry. And this is so right, because God is all about coming together, creating and building, and ‘home’.  The Divine Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit joined each other in making the Creation.  “In the beginning, God created… and the Spirit of God was hovering over the emptiness…” and the in New Testament, the Apostle John, speaking of Jesus tells us that “everything was created through him;  nothing—not one thing!— came into being without him.  What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by.  The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.”  Three Persons in One Godhead, working together to make Place – all places, including our home, this planet called Earth!  And God even said, “Let us make mankind in our image.”

The place God made was a good place for good people.  “And God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.”  Sadly, something happened in the very good place.  The Deceiver came, and Adam and Eve disobeyed God, introducing sin and rebellion into the world.  And along with sin and rebellion came a curse, for God said, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat food until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you will return.”

But along with the curse of death, a promise of life was given.  In Galatians Chapter 4 we read, and “when the right time came, the time God decided on, He sent his Son, born of a woman, born as a Jew, to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law so that he could adopt us as His very own … And because we are His [children], God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, so now we can rightly speak of God as our dear Father.  …And since we are His [children], everything He has belongs to us, for that is the way God planned.”

Again we see Father, Son and Holy Spirit working together to redeem the world and build a new family of God’s children.  We’ve recently celebrated Christmas – the coming of God’s son, Jesus, into the world.  Luke tells us, “While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”  How ironic that no place was found for the very Creator of Place!

I don’t think it was an accident that God the Father chose to give his Son into the care of a builder, Mary’s husband Joseph, the carpenter.  And isn’t it the most natural of all supernatural things that God the Son would take on his earthly father’s trade, and become a builder himself?  He knew how to build a home.  He knew how to sweat.  And he knew the value of both.

In Matthew chapter 8 we find, “Then an expert in the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus said to him, “Foxes have dens, and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  When he entered his itinerant ministry, the Creator of Place knew again what it was like not to have a place.

At the end of his earthly life, knowing he would soon be crucified, Jesus went to the Garden to pray, “and in his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”  Jesus’ prayers and tortuous sacrificial death on the cross were his very real ‘sweat equity’ investment in our adoption into God’s family and our eternal home.

Just an hour or two before this prayer, Jesus had said to his followers, “Do not let your hearts be distressed. You believe in God; believe also in me. There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going away to make ready a place for you. And if I go and make ready a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am you may be too.”

Even at the end of his earthly life, Jesus recognized the importance of Place, the importance of ‘home’.  And he’s gone to make that wonderful place ready for us!  Like Habitat volunteers and families, CWCf Associates – RV’ers for Christ, participate are actively being God’s gift of sweat equity to others – for being in the image of God, we are place makers – ‘home’ builders.

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