Big, Big House”

   Written by on August 31, 2017 at 12:16 pm

logo-smith-gregAccording to the Pew Research Center, 25-35-year-old Millennials are more likely than previous generations to live at home with their parents.  As of 2016, 15% of those in this age range lived with their parents, compared to 15% of Gen-Xers in 2000, 11% of late-Boomers in 1990, 8% of early-Boomers in 1981, and 8% of the Mature/Silent Generation in 1964.  According to the same research, they are not only boomeranging, recovering, and moving back out—but they are either remaining in their parents’ homes or moving back in for a median of three years.1  Many factors contribute to this trend, including an increased demand for college degrees, which delays marriage for many millennials.  According to CNBC’s Jessica Dickler,

In addition, sluggish wage growth and sky-high rents in many urban centers have made it unaffordable for some recent graduates to move out on their own. Even as hiring picks up, wages for new college grads have not budged, when adjusted for inflation, from prerecession levels, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Then there are the hefty student loan bills from school, which are at an all-time high, putting a severe strain on most recent graduate’s financial circumstances. Seven in 10 seniors graduate with debt, owing about $29,000 per borrower, according to the most recent data from the Institute for College Access & Success.

From a financial perspective, moving back home can provide millennials with an opportunity to start paying back loans and build up an emergency fund with a goal of getting to independence.2

But it’s not just poor, struggling Millennials who are moving back home.  In London, Prince William and his wife Kate, the Dutchess of Cambridge, have moved into an apartment in Kensington Palace, where he grew up.  William’s brother, Prince Harry, has also taken an apartment in the same palace, just like Diana and Charles did before him.  Historically, multi-generational living is much more prevalent than what we think of as the two-generational norm.  From peasants to royalty, parents and children have lived in the same household along with grandparents and great-grandparents.  As I write this, I’m blessed to have my Millennial and Generation Z children and grandchildren living in my home—and I wouldn’t change a thing about it (not just now).  I’m glad to have a house with so many rooms, where multiple generations of my family can live and thrive.

Jesus’ words in John 14:1-14 have brought comfort to people throughout the generations.  They have also inspired songs like “Mansion Over the Hilltop” by Ira Stanphill, which promotes a materialistic and wealth-based notion of heaven; and “Big Big House,” by Audio Adrenaline, which humorously depicts God having a “big big yard, where we can play football.”  Theologians have debated over the meaning of the word “mansion,” but I like the New Living Translation, in which Jesus says, “There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am (vv. 2-3).”3

“More than enough room” describes more than just the Father’s house—it describes the Father’s heart.  Some believe that God only wants to save a few, but the Bible I read describes a God whose love is so great that God wants to save everyone.  Jesus says in John 12:32, “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”  In Matthew 18:14, Jesus says, “It is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”  While I have difficulty with universalism which teaches complete salvation for everyone (this violates human free will), I do believe that God’s embrace would be big enough, if every human being who ever lived would come to accept God’s unconditional love.  There’s more than enough room with God.

Jesus describes the way that everyone can come and live in the Father’s house.  He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him (vv. 6-7)!”  He continues to explain that anyone who has seen Him has seen the Father.  This is because Jesus and the Father are one.  It’s a remarkable claim to be the only way to the Father—but this is because Jesus so perfectly represents the Father, that anyone who imagines God apart from Jesus is missing the full picture.  Colossians 1:19-20 says, “For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through the blood of His cross.”  God is a peace-making God, loving the world enough to die for it.  God fully exemplified this love in the demonstration of forgiveness Jesus showed on the cross, exonerating the very people who crucified him.  There can be no greater expression of love and grace than that.

Unfortunately, people try all kinds of other ways to reach God—through good works, through pious acts of religion.  But Jesus says the only way to the Father is through Him—through receiving and sharing God’s grace as perfectly demonstrated through Jesus.  The only way to understand God is to understand God as we have seen God in the person of Jesus.  Those who want to depict God as a warlike, vengeful, alienating kind of God aren’t really grasping who God is.  The only way to the Father is through Jesus—the God who reconciles and loves.  Anything other than this isn’t really God—simply a transference of our tribal hierarchies and rules onto our notion of a God that we’ve created in the image of our kings and judges.  You can’t reach God except through the gracious Savior, who isn’t a finger-shaking heavenly magistrate, but the one who invites us to the table in God’s “big, big house.”

(Endnotes)

1 Fry, Richard.  “It’s becoming more common for young adults to live at home – and for longer stretches.”  May 5, 2017.  http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/05/05/its-becoming-more-common-for-young-adults-to-live-at-home-and-for-longer-stretches/.  July 19, 2017.

2 Dickler, Jessica.  “More college grads move back home with mom and dad”  June 11, 2016.  http://www.cnbc.com/2016/06/10/more-college-grads-move-back-home-with-mom-and-dad.html.  July 19, 2017.

3 All scripture quotations are taken from the NLT.

©2017 By Gregory T. Smith.
Reprinted with permission
revgregsmith.blogspot.com

About Greg Smith

Greg Smith is a Baptist minister who has served churches in Central and Southside Virginia. He lives in Halifax County, VA with his wife and children. To read more of Greg’s writings check out his blog at revgregsmith.blogspot.com.

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