At Home With Family

Ephesians makes me feel at home with God. I am His own child and joint heir to an inheritance I cannot begin to imagine. I hear powerful words of encouragement in 3:17-21.

“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 

Now all glory to God, who is able through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen” (NASB)

Knowing Christ feels at home in my heart changes the way I love and live. If Christ were coming for a visit, I would be in a dither trying to get everything ready for Him. If I see Him as family at home in my heart, I can relax and enjoy the oneness and comfort family affords. With family, I can be myself. It changes the way I see God and myself when I come to the understanding that He is family.

When my roots reach deeply into God’s love, I find a strength and acceptance I cannot describe. I find peace and love and grace opening my heart to embrace that love. I can’t reach the end of His love because there is no end in any direction I go. I know I will not fully understand Christ’s love until I am with Him in heaven, but I will have a deeper fullness of life if I stretch my faith and allow my heart to explore the vastness of His precious love. Nothing strengthens the heart as effectively as a loving family, and Christ makes that possible for everyone who yearns to be loved and embraced as they are.

God accomplishes infinitely more than I can ask, think, or imagine if I allow Him to make His home in my heart. Love gets wider, longer, and deeper in my own heart as Christ tears down the walls and adds on to my heart in a powerful way. He gives me room to relax and remember who I am. I am God’s daughter, and He delights in me! When I think of Christ being at home in my heart, it makes me smile and treat Him like a big Brother. I believe He likes that better than being treated like a visitor or a marble statue.

Nothing is sweeter than the cozy feeling of being at home with my family. My son and his family have been gone for a few days, and I’ve missed my little granddaughters so very much. The house is clean; the laundry is finished, and the refrigerator is full. I even rearranged the girls playroom. As I look around at the quiet, clean house, I long for the joyful noise of play and the mess that goes along with living with those I love. Jesus and I have had a lot of quiet time together, and it’s been wonderful; but we are both ready for the house to fill up with the love that makes this life worth living.

 

Gather Into One

Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.John 11:47-53 NASB

What an amazing display of God’s glory it would be if we allowed Jesus to “gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.” The irony of Christianity is the way it has scattered and separated us when Jesus came to gather us into one. Religious authorities in Jesus’s day were afraid of unity; they are still afraid of it.

Becoming one means letting go of all identity except for that of Jesus Christ. When I join Him as He desires and on His terms, oneness occurs. When I meet Him halfway or allow my denomination or doctrines to come between us, I will never get to that sweet place of connection. The same is true for all the connections in my life. It is heartbreaking when there is a wall between me and those I love, especially when that wall allows me to see but not be connected as I desire.

Those glass walls go up quickly when it comes to Christ, and they give Christianity the appearance of being one until you look more closely at the divisions coming between the children of God. The same walls go up as we love one another. There is safety in walls that creates a boundaries because boundaries bring comfort. Breaking down boundaries makes everyone nervous. Unfortunately, that is one belief that does unite Christians.

When the walls come down, I get a glimpse of the love God so desires for His children. The problem is that when those walls come down, my vulnerability is exposed. I can’t let others know me at my deepest level because they may not like me. I can’t love Christ with abandon because people will think I’m nuts. That’s exactly what would change this world if given the chance. If Christians loved one another and God as Christ, the world would certainly think we were nuts, and that’s a lot better than what they think of us now!

If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” If we let Him has His way with us, the same thing will happen, and I don’t mean a hostile takeover as some envision. He will take away our place and our nation and leave us forever changed. Change is the problem, and being one scares us to death. When I look to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and see how they are one, I want what they have. It’s what the high priests knew would happen. We can’t let everyone get what this guy is giving out. It will ruin our way of life and destroy us. Jesus does just that, and it’s a wonderful thing. Revival comes when those glass walls are shattered, and we are willing to let Christ “gather into one the children of God.” That was His agenda then, and it’s still His agenda now.

We’re In This Together

John Donne’s famous poem “No Man Is An Island” is worth a second look this week.

No Man Is An Island

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee. 

Each death does indeed diminish each of us, and that was made crystal clear as we watched the horror unfold before us this week. The bell tolled many times for me and for each of us yesterday, and I thought of the poignant ending to Donne’s powerful poem. Do I really believe that mankind is that connected? I should. God created us to connect, but we separate, choose sides, hide, and mind our own business. It’s what’s wrong with the world. Oneness is God’s plan. Individuality is what Satan prefers.

Each day 21,000 children die in this world. “The silent killers are poverty, hunger, easily preventable diseases and illnesses, and other related causes. Despite the scale of this daily/ongoing catastrophe, it rarely manages to achieve, much less sustain, prime-time, headline coverage.”(Global Issues)

The numbers numb, and the statistics cause us to run for cover if we forget to see ourselves as “involved in mankind.” I suppose the fact that we could do something to prevent the 21,000 daily deaths makes us uncomfortable. Out of sight, out of mind keeps the horrible statistics from haunting me. Haunting is the word I would use for this terrible week. The images have literally haunted and left me reeling.

John Donne didn’t write his poem to make us cower and cover our faces. He wrote it to remind us that we are all in this together. We are stronger when we connect because we are closer to one another and to God when we understand the point of this poem. Christ called us to love God and one another. When we grasp that truth and remember that we are not islands, we will walk in God’s kingdom with the light and life that Christ brings into this world.

John 1:1-5 has helped me so very much today:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

The darkness does not comprehend the Light, but it does flee from it. Let your light shine in a way that will disperse the darkness, and live the life Christ makes possible for all of us. I will attend two funerals this week, and my heart hurts from the losses close to home as well as those far to the north and around the world. The bell tolls for me, and its tolling has caused my heart to tremble this week and remember that I am not alone. That is a comforting thought if I remember Who is the author and perfecter of my faith. I’ll leave you with those words of comfort from Hebrews 12:2

“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”