Christians are described as aliens and strangers in this world. This article shows that this characterization means that Christians are to live with a desire and longing for home. At the same time they are given a foretaste of heaven through the communion of saints. Wisdom is knowing how to live with this longing amidst struggles in this life.

Source: Faith in Focus, 2013. 3 pages.

Heading for Home

Have you ever been on a camping holiday, expecting a wonderful break away with sunshine, sizzling sausages on the barbeque and freshly-caught snapper for breakfast, only to get caught in tor­rential rain? The noise of the falling water gets louder and the wind starts to make the guy ropes sing an eerie tune. Bucket-loads of fluid are dumped on the flysheet, while the groundsheet starts to bubble up with the flood that is now flowing across your camping spot. It’s night-time and you don’t sleep a wink. When a dark grey dawn finally arrives you are tired, everything is saturated, and there’s only one place you want to be: home.

Home is a place of familiar comfort, a personal reference point, a place of belonging. Home is a cosy, intimate, relaxed, place where friends come to visit. When you hear the word ‘home’, you might think of the building where you now live, or the one you grew up in. Having a place that we call “home” is a basic, universal human desire. For some it is a 3-bedroom house on a quarter-acre section; for others an Inuit igloo, or a small North American condominium, a Mongolian yurt, or even a mansion on a sprawling English country estate. However, those who sleep on the streets of cities around the world have nowhere to call home.

‘Home’ is also a country with which we identify as a citizen. Whilst a kiwi is a nocturnal flightless bird, the word also describes a person who calls New Zealand ‘home’. Not everyone has such a place. There are an estimated 12 million people worldwide who are ‘stateless’; as refugees they don’t belong anywhere and have no nation they can call ‘home’.

The first homeless people on this earth were our ancestors, Adam and Eve. They lost their place of belonging in Eden and no one on earth has ever had a true home since. Theologian Donald Bloesch has described the difficulties of our sojourn on this earth by saying that “our greatest affliction is not anxiety, or even guilt, but rather homesickness – a nostalgia or ineradicable yearning to be home with God.1

Even the perfect man, Jesus Christ, could find no place of belonging in this world.2 When He became part of this creation, through His conception by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary, He left His true home in the place called ‘heaven’.

Our Permanent Home🔗

The word ‘heaven’ in the Bible some­times refers to the physical space above the earth; the atmosphere and the space beyond.3 Heaven is also a Scriptural term for the holy dwelling place of God.4 It is a divine workplace from which God sends blessings to His people5 and pun­ishment on His enemies.6 Heaven is also the abode of those creatures who worship God in close fellowship with their Almighty Creator. It is the perma­nent home which Jesus Christ promis­es to all those who belong to Him, a place prepared by the Son of God in His own Father’s house.7 It is called the ‘new heaven and new earth’ 8 and is a place where God’s home is permanently amongst His people, who will live physi­cally in His glorious presence forever. The new heavens and new earth is a place of complete safety, enduring peace and abundant wealth.9 It is a productive realm of abundant life;10 a domain of pure light where Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, will be seen in the flesh.

This will be a world without evil. The effects of sin on this groaning creation will be utterly abolished. There will be no more pain, no more crying, no more mourning and no more death. All that is troublesome in this life will be removed. In this eternal home there will be no more pride, no more malice, no more hating one another, no more hurting one another and no old age.

Some Christians have a very vague idea about what this heavenly home will be like. Others may even picture an ethereal emptiness, conjuring up mental images of an airy-fairy realm in the clouds. This is not the new earth which God has revealed to us in His Word.

The new world, which God promises for His people, will be this old world completely restored. This home will be a physical place, a renewed earth which will be partly familiar to us. That which is truly good in this world will be retained whilst all that is not will be removed. We will have bodies like our present ones, only perfect, and not subject to decay. There will be ground beneath our feet and the staggering beauties of a new earth to behold with our physical senses.

The new heavens and new earth will not be static or boring, but dynamic and fascinating. As finite glorified human creatures we will spend forever progressively exploring the unfolding wonders of our infinite Creator God and the breath-taking wonders of all that he has remade. This will be a place where our deepest desires and longings are fully satisfied. Pastor John Piper has said “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”11 He will be perfectly glorified in the new heavens and the new earth. We will be perfectly satisfied in a home full of gladness, joy and universal peace.12

Our True Home🔗

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the new earth is our true home. We are not citizens of this world. We do not belong here. We are pilgrims, sojourners, strangers on the land of this earth. Yet our lives, as God’s people, are not aimless wanderings, but our journey has God-given purpose, meaning, and a glorious goal.

Understanding where you are heading makes every difference to the journey along the way. Have you been on a tramp or a climb with the aim of reach­ing a high vantage point, perhaps a mountain peak?

When you begin from the car park, the track may be a broad one with an easy gradient. Here in New Zealand it is likely to be enclosed by thick bush on either side and if it’s summer on the West Coast, you’ll likely have to contend with pesky sand-flies en route. Further along, the way will steepen and you may find yourself slipping back with each step as loose stones or screed slide away under your feet. Then you reach a point where you can look up above the tree-line and see that the peak you wish to scale is still a very long way off.

There are many reasons why a trav­elling tramper may become discouraged on an alpine walk. In a similar way, there are also many reasons why a Christian pilgrim may struggle with motivation. It is the hopeful thought of that lofty peak from which the satisfied climber will survey the expansive surrounding landscape which keeps the weary feet moving. So likewise it is the anticipation of arriving at one’s perfect, permanent home which keeps the Christian moving forward. The Apostle Paul puts it this way:

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reach­ing forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.13

Not Home Yet🔗

Perhaps you are struggling in your Chris­tian pilgrimage even as you read this article. It’s not biting sand-flies that bother you, but you have been hurt by rumours and gossip. You’re not slipping on loose screed rock, but you are battling to over­come a persistent sin. You look at the holy standard of living which God calls you to in His Word and it all seems overwhelming and you want to give up. You realise how little progress you have made and how far you have yet to go.

These are the times to remind your­self that you are not yet home and that your distress is like that of being bat­tered around by the wind and rain on a camping trip. A tent-maker by trade, the Apostle Paul describes our present bodies as being like temporary shelters and our future homes as being in a permanent “building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”14

One of the many privileges which I enjoy as a pastor is leading engaged couples through premarital counselling. During one of the early sessions, I gen­erally ask the question “how much time are you spending with one another”. I expect the answer to be something like “as much as we possibly can!” Betrothed couples want to be together; that’s why they eagerly look forward to marriage!

When we look forward to going home, we are looking forward to being with Christ, our Heavenly Bridegroom. The best way to prepare for our home­coming is to spend time with the Lord now. We do this when we read His Word, we hear His truth preached, we study His wisdom, and when we pray. We also prepare for our homecom­ing when we spend time in fellowship with those fellow pilgrims who, like us, are looking for a true home apart from this earth. Like fellow trampers on an uphill slog, our brothers and sisters in Christ serve the Lord as they encour­age us when the route forward seems overwhelmingly difficult.

A Foretaste of Things to Come🔗

Fellow believer, whilst we have not yet arrived at our eternal home, spiritually we have already come to the heavenly Jerusalem15 The church is a foretaste of the fullness of our heavenly home to come. The worshipping covenant community is where we belong as we are all being prepared for our future place of permanent residency. The local church is the place where those who have faith (an assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen16) find a temporary home whilst being surrounded by a wicked and perverse generation. As sojourners, aliens and strangers on this earth, God’s people “desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.”17

Beloved fellow Christian, that city, that promised country, is our true and per­manent home. Pilgrim, as you press on through the storms and strains of this life, always remember that you are heading for that home, but that you have not, as yet, arrived.


  1. ^ Donald Bloesch, Theological Notebook (Colo­rado Springs: Helmers and Howard, 1989), 183
  2. ^ Matthew 8:20.
  3. ^ Usually as part of the phrase “heaven and earth” e.g. Genesis 14:19; Matthew 5:18.
  4. ^ e.g. Revelation 4-5.
  5. ^ e.g. Deuteronomy 26:15; Isaiah 63:15
  6. ^ e.g. Psalm 2:4; 11:4-7.
  7. ^ John 14:1-3
  8. ^ Isaiah 65:17; Revelation 21:1
  9. ^ Revelation 21:10-27
  10. ^ Revelation 22:1-5
  11. ^ John Piper, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah, 1996), 50
  12. ^ Isaiah 65:25
  13. ^ Phil 3:13-14
  14. ^ 2 Corinthians 5:1
  15. ^ Hebrews 12:22.
  16. ^ Hebrews 11:1
  17. ^ Hebrews 11:16

Add new comment

(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.