For notice of a lawsuit to be valid, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require (among other things) that the the plaintiff leave “a copy of the summons and complaint at the individual’s dwelling or usual place of abode with someone of suitable age and discretion who resides there”.
Basically, that means that if you are not able to serve the individual personally, you must leave the summons and complaint with someone who lives with the individual in the individual’s home. That seems simple and straight forward. But problems with sufficient service began to arise when our society became more mobile. Most people no longer live in the same home their entire adult life.
Some people even have multiple homes at one time. Thus, the court has created a standard to determine what constitutes a “dwelling place.” As usual the courts differ from state to state, but for the most part the standard is that a place is considered a “dwelling” if there exists “sufficient indicia of permanence.” In other words, is there evidence that the individual’s stay there is not just temporary?
As Christians, we know that this world is not our home and we are simply sojourners here, awaiting our permanent residency with Christ when He restores His Kingdom (Hebrews 13:14, John 18:36, Philippians 3:20). But we are not homeless while living in this world. Quite the contrary. We have a dwelling place in the House of the Lord. Are you currently dwelling in Him and in His house? Is there sufficient indicia of permanence for you in a Bible believing church? Or is your commitment to His church temporary and inconsistent?
“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple.” Psalm 27:4
King David – one of the most wealthy, powerful, and successful kings to have ever lived – desired nothing more than to dwell in the House of the Lord. He had sufficient indicia of permanence. Yes, David is referring to being in the presence of the Lord (which can happen anywhere), but he is also talking about the literal temple in which God’s people would gather to worship Him. Journeying to the temple for times of worship was a great and sacred celebration for the Israelites. They were grieved when they were in exile and the temple destroyed because they were not able to properly offer sacrifices to God (Ezra, Nehemiah). Were you as grieved when the government closed down our churches?
I know that we are saved by faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8), but I question where a “Christian” is spiritually and what his relationship with Christ truly is like if he does not desire the things of God. I was definitely that type of Christian when I first claimed to be saved. I wanted to be saved from and forgiven of my sin, but I still desired many aspects of my sinful life. If your heart is regenerated to love God, then you will love what God loves and desire His ways. And His way is for His people to gather and worship Him! (Hebrews 10:24-25, 1 Timothy 3:14-15, Psalm 122:1-9, 1 Corinthians 12:12-22, etc.) His way is for His people to dwell in His house.
“How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” Psalm 84:1-2
One thing this pandemic has shown us is what our heart and flesh cry out for. Did you cry out for the living God? To grow deeper in your love for Him? Did you long for the courts of the Lord and to be with His people to worship Him? Is there sufficient indicia of permanence for you in His House? If not, my prayer is that you receive the conviction from the Holy Spirit and seek God earnestly to ask Him to regenerate your heart so you desire only His ways.
“For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in You!” Psalm 84:10-12