"If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads to all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn't looking for Him and doesn't recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans - I will come to you." - John 14:15-18
"When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and make you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and 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." - Ephesians 3:14-19 NLT
This may be my favorite line of the carol, but it's part of a verse that isn't often sung! This part is included in the Amy Grant version I referenced on the first day.
Yesterday, we explored the humbling reality of Jesus, one with God in relationship and glory, coming to live among people, as a human person! To further the audacious choices of God Himself, Jesus now finds His home IN us, through the Holy Spirit.
Jesus came into the world on what was probably not a silent night. He grew as a normal boy in Nazareth of Galilee, a region of Israel, and followed all the Jewish customs of the time: the Passover, the Festival of Booths, among other traditions. Like many boys of His day, Jesus apprenticed with His earthly father, Joseph, as a carpenter. He lived a very normal life, and made His home among real people. God among His people. The life of Jesus on earth, His ministry, His death and resurrection, allow us to have the nearness of God in us for life and to be WITH God for eternity.
In John 14, Jesus promises the disciples an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, who will live IN them. But then He says something (highlighted in the verses above) that I had never taken much notice of before. The Advocate lived with the disciples "now" and "later" He would be in them. Jesus was talking about Himself! Jesus, by His Spirit, lives in us!
The verses from Ephesians above are some of the most astounding verses in Scripture to me because of how they speak so tangibly of God's love. Paul, who was writing to the churches in Ephesus, articulates these deep concepts so beautifully. Ephesus was a dark place in the ancient world and the new Jesus followers there must have had a hard time not being influenced by the messages around them. Paul's letter to those budding churches is full of truth and encouragement.
I could have quoted all of Ephesians 3 here. When Paul says "When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father. . ." It's preceded by this verse: "Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God's presence." (v. 12) This was the plan from the very beginning! That Jesus would come among us, in our despair, our ugliness, and our longings, to fill our longings with Himself. And so we could have an Advocate who is with us always and who reveals all truth to us. Not just God with us, that's who Jesus was during His time on earth, but God within us, when God's Spirit came to dwell in us.
Our response should be to boldly and confidently proclaim to the living Christ, as the carol says, "Fix in us thy humble home!" Settle in. Renew our hearts and our minds by your life in us. Illuminate the darkness within us by your light.
My prayer this Advent season is that you would truly know how wide, how long, how high, and how deep the love of God is for you. Jesus humbled Himself and sacrificed everything so He could make His home among us, so that then He could make His home in us forever.
What do you think it means for Christ to really settle into your heart and take up residence?
Are you willing to allow Jesus to move things around? Shine light in dark places?