I Am Home

I Am Home

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Do people feel relationally safe in your home? Your church? Your school? Your business?

Is it the place they long to come to when the problems of the world seem overwhelming? Is it a haven of understanding, acceptance, and security?

It can be.

By God’s grace, your home, church, school or business can be like the classroom that Erin Gruwell formed in a racially splintered high school in southern California.

Erin was an idealistic young English teacher who started her career at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach in 1993. The school had recently been integrated, bringing together teenagers from diverse racial groups, many of whom were openly hostile toward one another and toward Erin.

She was given a group of students known as the “unteachables.” Most of them came from broken families. Some were homeless. They had little interest in learning and no hope of graduation, much less college. They had simply been passed along by other teachers to get them out of their classrooms.

Though a complete novice as a teacher, Erin had incredible relational skills. She instinctively knew how to win the hearts of her students. She deflected their insults, challenged their assumptions, pulled down their walls, and inspired them to believe that they could accomplish far more than they had ever dreamed.

But most of all, Erin developed a sense of safety, security, and acceptance in her classroom, a place of genuine relationship.

Here is a short video clip that illustrates her relational achievement. It’s taken from a movie entitled The Freedom Writers, which is based on a book Erin wrote. The scene takes place at the beginning of her second year of teaching, when Erin (played by Hilary Swank) held a reception for her students as they returned to school in the fall (if video screen does not appear below, click here).

“I walk into the room and feel as though all the problems in life are not so important any more. I am home.”

Isn’t this what people should say about our homes? About our churches? About classrooms led by Christian teachers? About businesses that are owned or managed by men and women who follow Christ?

Let’s pray that God would give each of us the same grace he gave to Erin Gruwell twenty years ago. Grace to really care about others. Grace to be kind, gentle, and patient, even with those who are irritating, defying, or attacking us. Grace to put to death our inclination to criticize and judge, and to put on the very character of God through a spirit of compassion, mercy, and forgiveness (Exod. 34:6-7).

In short, grace to live out Romans 15:7 so consistently (“Accept one another then, just as Christ has accepted you, in order to bring praise to God”) that others would always feel safely “at home” whenever they are near to us.

– Ken Sande

Reflection Questions

  • When problems are pressing in on you, where do you long to go in order to feel safe, understood, accepted and supported? Chances are its not a particular building , but rather its with a particular person or group of people.
  • Why do you feel safe and “at home” with them? What qualities do they have? How do they treat you?
  • Where do you feel the least safe when you’ve got major struggles? What makes you feel that way?
  • Now as you reflect on the answers to these questions, what qualities and relational habits do you want to ask God to help you to put off and put on so that people would feel they are “at home” (safe, understood, accepted) when they are near you?
  • A word to church leaders: far too many Christians say the place they feel least safe and accepted, especially when they are struggling with sin, is in their own churches because they feel they will be judged and marginalized. How can you set an example for your congregation that would make your church as safe and comforting a place as Erin Gruwell’s classroom was?

Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like.

© 2014 Ken Sande

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13 Responses to "I Am Home"
  1. This has been quite a thought provoking question. Esp. since my church has many “seasoned” congregants.
    Do we remember that we are ALL sinners, not just the people who haven’t met Jesus yet?

    • How true. I’ve often heard it said that churches find it easy to extend grace to the unsaved, especially if they have a terrible background. But we are not as good at extending grace to Christians who have stumbled. As you say, however, we all sin daily and are in daily need of mercy, compassion, and forgiveness.

  2. Acceptance-Approval-Belonging. These are the things that drew me to Christ. As you say, these seem easier to give to new believers who are coming out of a world of sin and death. Giving the same graces to a believer who is failing is more difficult maybe because it points out our own failure. Only by getting my eyes off myself and onto others and God (SOG) can I hope to be of help to someone else.

    • Amen, Matt. We do seem to have so much grace for the unsaved yet so little for believers who continue to struggle with indwelling sin. May God give us the same kind of compassion that Jesus had for both groups.

  3. I believe that this is an area where we can all work to do better. A lot of times, it is us as believers that feel that it is difficult to reach out for help. It is so important to feel that we have a safe place to receive help and counsel. Satan constantly attacks, as we know all too well. We are all sinners and need God’s grace….

  4. I just want to praise the Lord for opening our eyes to His will and and convicting us of our shortcomings, so we may be humbled in His presense

  5. There is so much prejudice in the world. I am so glad that we are all equal at the foot of the cross. No matter the sin or our nationality.

  6. This causes me to reflect on my work place and the team that I lead. I want it to be a place where the love of God is expressed. Expressed to the extent that even when one walks in to our shop, there is a difference in how it feels, even if no one should be there. While I want there to be such dignity given, and love expressed. that a desire just to be there is felt. And still; I am floored to discover that I am somewhat loth to hear the stories of people’s lives, to feel their pain with them. It seems that I am willing to give dignity, and express the love of Christ. But to truly hear the hurts and needs of others, I shrink back.

    • I understand your reaction, David. I sometimes feel the same way. I can show a certain amount of compassion and grace but then seem to hit a wall where it’s hard to go further. I think that’s when God shows me that I’ve come to the end of myself and I can only really love and care for others in his strength.

  7. Last time when my whole family gathered together for Christmas and New Year (more than 10 days) in our home. It was us 21 people just children and grandchildren. It was noisy all day and night. My youngest daughter say that she miss some vacation time. My older daughter answers : I am working hard for few years to afford trip for five of home just to have the feeling to be home, for me this are great vacation. This encourage me a lot. I hope their relationship will grow. Even I was feeling so tired after I was happy.

    • It’s wonderful that God continues to work in our lives and families over long periods of time, giving us hope that change and growth is always possible. May he continue to draw your family closer and closer together!

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