Christ within us.

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” Ephesians 3:14-17

In these verses, the Apostle Paul does not pray for Christ to briefly visit us but he prays that Christ would dwell within our hearts by faith; Christ needs to make His home within us.  What a blessing it is to have Christ, the Savior from sin and the Lord of life, live within us.  He comes as the bearer of many gifts of grace.  When He makes His house within us He endows us with strength to pray to Him, to follow Him and to extend His love and forgiveness to others.  Because of His presence, we have guidance for life and peace for troubled lives.

We, like the Isidor family in the attached photo, are courteous hosts when we tell our guest “please make yourself at home” but would we want our friend to ‘truly’ make themselves at home in our house?  Would we want them to rearrange the furniture, eat of our ‘favorite’ food, take down our family photos, throw out our magazines and disable the Internet and Dish connections?  When Christ dwells within us things need to change as the ‘stuff’ of this world cannot remain.  He comes to renew us.  He wants to change and reshape our lives, our hearts, our thoughts and our homes.  He wants His influence on our lives to be ongoing until we receive our Heavenly Glory.

I read a report from a Pastor that went to Haiti with a mission team and while reading through his journal it seemed that they were imposing their North American ideals, culture and theology upon the local Lutherans; they made themselves at home and seemed to have turned the Haitian culture upside down.  They didn’t understand the Haitian culture; it wasn’t American and it needed to be changed.  One of the many things that I like about  Trinity/HOPE is that they strive to embrace the Haitian culture with the food that they provide and the Christian education that is being taught in a world full of vodou and lives that witness visitors coming to change their culture.  The food that is served is from Haiti, cooked by Haitians and served in a manner consistent with Haitian culture.  Before over 24,000 children eat their bowl of rice of beans they offer thanks and invite their Lord and Savior to join them; “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest.”  I close today with the first three verses from the hymn ‘Abide with me’ that was written by Henry Lyte in 1847.

“Abide with me! Fast falls the eventide; the darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.  When other helpers fail and comforts flee, help of the helpless, oh, abide with me!  Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day; earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away; change and decay in all around I see.  O Thou, who changest not, abide with me!  Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word, but as Thou dwell'st with Thy disciples, Lord, familiar, condescending, patient, free.  Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.” 

Heavenly Father, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown.  Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  Amen.

May God be with you…Jay