So the song goes, “This world is not my home…” Well, I’ve come to realize that my home is not my home either. I live in a medium sized track neighborhood (about 200 single family homes and townhomes). We live in sort of the “downtown” (if you can call it that) of my small suburb–there are two major supermarkets and their respective restaurants and a mass transit station within 10 minutes walking distance. And our neighborhood is sort of an upper-middle class oasis amid an otherwise very old low and middle-income area. Surburban respite with urban conveniences.
My neighborhood is pretty tightly knit, or at least a handful of families were. Since these last two block parties, I think that handful has now expanded by multiples. Recently, there were a few burglaries. It’s no surprise that everyone is pretty freaked out about it. So, on our neighborhood email list (which has almost 130 people on it), there has been a flurry of ideas on how to secure not only our individual homes, but our neighborhood from future intrusions. People are really serious and ready to act. Two of the benefits that neighbors have been highlighting from the proposals are (1) that we will be safer and (2) it will increase our home values.
Then it hit me, I don’t give a damn about my home value.
Funny, my neighbors all make 2 to 4 times the income my wife and I do. Yet still, it seems that everyone cares so much about their home values. Home values in my neighborhood–like everywhere else in the Bay Area–have nearly quadrupled in the last 10 years. Yet that isn’t enough. They want more. They want more insulated, safer, and more valuable homes. “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?”
Every once in a while, some one in the neighborhood will enthusiastically email in support of the proposals at hand and sign off: “God bless.” Why does that bug me so? And why is it so hard for me NOT to think myself better than my neighbors?
This home is not my home. We make the distinction between a house and a home. But this home is not my home. It is a temporary abode–and not because I might sell and upgrade in five years–but because one day it will fall under the weight of the deepest fears and unlimited greed of this world…it will become the stuff of moths and rust. “In my Father’s house, there are many rooms. If it were not so, I would have told you. I’m going to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also.”
It seems strange, because I think its stupid that I feel so leary about becoming safer, about the possibility of opening up a larger HELOC. Does God promise that the kingdom will become a place where people can work, rest, and live without fear of danger? That everyone will have enough to provide for themselves? Doesn’t a safer and more prosperous neighborhood bring us closer to heaven? Then why am I so uneasy?
This home is not my home. But if our house was broken into, I would have felt that our home was violated. So it is my home. But still can’t cling to it. The Lord gave it to us–really, he did–and just as quickly he can take it away. Perhaps I feel that a fear and despising of outsiders is a sign of privilege and ingratitude.
This home is not my home. But I don’t want my family to live in fear. And I’d prefer that my family not have anything to fear–but perhaps that is a privilege that is shared in only a small percentage of people in a small percentage of nations. But still, there’s nothing noble or spiritual about exposing my family to danger. There’s nothing worthy about being burglarized.