The Big IF: Home

The Big IF: Home

The Big IF: Home.

Sometimes our eyes just skip over small words in Scripture when we are reading in a hurry. In other words, if we’re not careful, if we find ourselves skimming the Bible, we will miss what might be the most important word in our relationship with God. We might be blind to a little word that quite possibly is central to our discipleship of Jesus. The word is “IF.” If is not a word to skip over, because it is often followed by a “Then.” Jesus makes many promises in the Gospels, and many of them have an “If” attached. If you do this, then I will do that, says Jesus. He seems to offer many conditional promises, what seem to be promises with strings attached. Conditional promises highlight the fact that we need to do our part in our relationship with Christ. We need to accept our responsibility as we cooperate with Him. We are active participants in our walk with the Lord. God offers us unconditional love, but we do have obligations if we expect to receive what He has promised. When we do our part, we are not earning salvation. We instead are putting forth effort as we live into our life of deliverance. We are doing our part in order to receive God’s promises. Obedience to Christ often translates into actively fulfilling on the “IF” so that God can fulfill the “Then.” This is another way we are working out our own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in us both to will and do for His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:12-13).

“Jesus said to them, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23).

Complete Intimacy. There are Scriptures about God making a home in us and about us making a home in God. How does one adequately describe the sacramental union between a believer and God? It’s almost as if God and believer dwell inside each other, abide in each other, make themselves at home in each other. Can there be a deeper, more profound intimacy than that? No wonder the union of a man and woman in marriage in which the two become one flesh is used in the Word as the closest thing we can get to this great mystery.

Extra Large. In Solomon’s famous prayer of dedication for his new Temple, he accurately said, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven, the heaven of heavens, the highest heaven can not contain you. How much less this Temple which I have built?” (1 Kings 8:27). Since we are told in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, we can ask the same question as Solomon… The entire universe doesn’t even give you elbow room. How can you make a home within my little earthly body? How does it happen that you, O God, can use my body as a sanctuary of your presence? God making a home in each believer is one of the most perplexing and glorious mysteries of the Faith.

Conditional Promise. His home in each of us seems to have a big IF attached. If we love Jesus, if we keep His word, then God Himself will make a home in our hearts. Both the Father and the Son will dwell in us and make themselves at home in our hearts. But evidently God does not make a home in those who don’t love Jesus and don’t keep His word. And how do we show that we love Him? By personally fleshing out His commandment of love, and by remaining in His word, embracing it, believing it, obeying it. Evidently, God doesn’t make His home in just anybody or everybody. Interesting.

Sanctuary. “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?” (1 Cor. 6:19). The Temple in Jerusalem was known as God’s dwelling place on earth. And now each of us has this distinct honor because God has chosen to dwell in each of us. Our personal little sanctuary of course is owned by God. It is a sacred place that belongs to the Lord. We each live in someone else’s building when God comes to make a home in us, and this holy Owner has a set of house rules. We are obligated to follow these rules since we are not in our own place. God dwells in each of us and we are God’s possession. So we need to honor God with our bodies to make Him feel at home.

The Trinity. The whole Godhead somehow has made a home in each of us, and it’s a wonder we don’t spiritually explode. The Father is in us who seek to be humble and contrite (Is. 57:15) and who seek to love Jesus (John 14:23); the Son is in us as He makes a home in the hearts of those who trust Him (Ephes. 3:17) and love Him (John 14:23); and the Holy Spirit is in us as we have become a sanctuary, a dwelling place, a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). We have been invited to participate in the very presence and communion of the Holy Trinity. We have been welcomed into the fellowship of the Godhead. Welcome Holy Trinity. Make yourself at home!

The Heart’s Door. “Behold! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (Rev. 3:20). Here is a picture of Jesus wanting to make a home in us, the Lord patiently knocking on the doors of our hearts. This door has no outside doorknob. The only means of opening the door is on the inside. And Jesus patiently stands there knocking to be welcomed in, but He won’t just barge in, He won’t break the door down, He won’t bang on it like a rude salesman. He is ever the gentleman, giving the choice to the one on the inside to let Him in to an intimate meal and fellowship. This table fellowship inside the heart no doubt refers to the messianic banquet, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in Rev. 19, and it points to the intimacy of the Eucharistic table.

In Jewish society, to be breaking bread with someone was a sign of unity, of solidarity. Being at the table with someone was a sign of joyful companionship, of sharing identities. When Jesus ate a meal with someone, the person He ate with was being honored and affirmed as worthy of deep fellowship. The table was sacred in the Jewish world, a sign of personal friendship. Jesus must have eaten a lot of meals with a wide variety of people, for He was known in social circles as “a glutton” (Matt. 11:19) and a friend of sinners. Being a friend of the outcasts and sinners meant practically that He often ate with them. The fact that Jesus wants to enter our hearts and eat a meal with us is significant. He wants to put His arm around our shoulders and break bread. He wants to be in solidarity with us. When He enters our lives, His first priority seems to be fellowship. Isn’t it interesting that He didn’t march through the door into our heart and start remodeling our house or rearranging our furniture? He doesn’t start everything off by bossing us around like a building contractor, telling us what to do. The first thing Jesus wants to do with us upon entering our heart is to have table fellowship. He wants to establish a friendship. That’s His priority. And where the Son is, the Father is right there with Him. They are spiritually joined at the hip. When the Son enters our heart, the Father is right behind as they walk through our door. “For truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, the Anointed One.” (1 John 1:3). “Jesus replied, My Father will love you so deeply that we will come to you and make you our dwelling place.” (John 14:23).

Treasure in Earthen Vessels. For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.” (2 Corinthains 4:6-7). God has made a home in us, so we have this treasure-light inside of us. Thank you, God!