This is the third week of our series we are calling “indwelling.” It is a five week look at God‘s desire to dwell in humanity and each of us. Through the scripture of the Sunday Lectionary we see the story of God’s love for us and this deep desire for God to be with us. God is a creator who wants to completely indwell with each and every one of us.
There are many places where we see the message from God to dwell with us. In Ezekiel “My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (37:27) Dwelling literary means tent and in this passage we begin to see the people’s desire to pitch a tent for God among them, it forms the tabernacle. Eventually the tent becomes a temple and for the people this is the place where God lived among them.
Eventually Jesus is incarnated into humanity, Emmanuel, God with us. When Jesus returns to the Father he sends the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, God dwelling within us. Two weeks ago we looked at the message through the words of Jesus, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” We are blessed with the Spirit within us. The Spirit wants to go deep, first to give us an inspiration, than deeper by inner movement and the deepest level is divine possession. With the Spirit deep within us we have the full indwelling of God, and it is mutual.
Last week Jesus question to Peter, “Do you love me?” helped us explore Jesus vulnerably. How Jesus is vulnerable in seeking our love, we can say no. Jesus lives this vulnerability as an example for us. We too want to know if we are loved. It is through our vulnerability and weakness God can make us strong. When we are weak we are strong through God dwelling in us.
We see a message in this week’s readings about communion. Jesus words this week tell us, “the Father and I are one.” Jesus speaks of this special relationship between the Father and the Son, a relationship that claims identity and equality between Son and Father. The two are so united that we see one God, with two natures, a third when we add the Spirit. This unity, this indwelling is God’s gratuitous grace filled hope for us and him. God loves us so much that God wants to be one with us and us one with him. We are so loved by God that his grace is constantly working to bring us closer to him.This unity, this indwelling is God’s gratuitous grace filled hope for us and him. God loves us so much that God wants to be one with us and us one with him. We are so loved by God that his grace is constantly working to bring us closer… Click To Tweet
The readings this week are from the Lectionary for the Fourth Sunday of Easter; Acts 13:14, 43-52; Psalms 100:1-2, 3, 5; Revelation 7:9, 14b-17; John 10:27-30. The readings guide us to discover a relationship between Father and Son that God hopes to make real with us. A love that desires communion between God and us.
In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles we read Paul and Barnabas are converting people to the new faith, eventually called Christianity. They are visiting towns and converting many people. But the Jewish leaders were jealous of the crowds and worked against Paul and Barnabas. Paul explains God spoke to the Jews first, but they are rejecting God’s word and making themselves unworthy, so it is time to turn to the Gentiles, that they may hear the word of God and form his church. The Gentiles were happy to become disciples inheriting eternal life, and they worked to spread the word. The Jews however incited a persecution against Paul and Barnabas forcing them to leave the town shaking the dust form their feet. In history God become the God of the Jews, he wanted to be close to them so they could be a visible sign for the rest of the world of what can be when people choose the one true God. Therefore God was close to the people from their selection. Jesus entered into humanity, Emmanuel, God with us, and expands God’s closeness to the people, he stretches out his arms so everyone will come to him for comfort and rest. In this reading we recognize when God is rejected he doesn’t force closeness. God moves to the next person to be close. God yearns to be close to all his creation, wanting his creation to desire closeness to him. The Jews were jealous and could not see this message. The Gentiles recognized an opportunity to be with God and were blessed to hear the message of Paul and Barnabas. God reaches out to all people, not just those selected first to be a sign.
In the second reading from the book of Revelation John’s vision tells us of a great multitude that could not be counted who were from every nation, race, people and tongue. It stands in support of the message from the reading in Acts above, the people who came to God through the apostles was a great multitude. They wore white, the color of victory and held palm branches a symbol of victory. It is a vision that declares the work of Jesus is victorious in bringing people close to God. The people stand in God’s Kingdom, worshiping Jesus who is their shepherd and their savior. Jesus leads them to life giving water, as God brings them joy. In this vision God and the people are together, in communion, one in God. This vision foretells a time when those choosing God stand able to see God and see Jesus. It is a vision in our future announcing all has been done according to God’s plan. These people are very close to God, joyfully celebrating this oneness with God. Jesus provides this vision to John so that we may know in the end God gets his wish and many come to him. People chose to be close to God as God has chosen to be close them. We are no longer are required to listen to the stories of eye witnesses, trusting. No more do we have to open ourselves to the indwelling of God. No more do we have to show our love to God by loving others. It is a time when we are indwelling with God as is every other disciple. We will have no hunger, or tears, we will be fully in communion in God. God will be fully in communion with us.
In the gospel reading John declares a small teaching from Jesus. Jesus says his sheep follow him and he takes care of them, they will never perish. No one will ever separate the people from Jesus, this is supported by a Father who protects the sheep as well. Jesus proclaims God as Father and says he is greater than all. He also says, “the Father and I are one.” This is the indwelling that God desires. God is one with Jesus and Jesus one with God. There is no deeper love than to be in communion so completely. When we think about this oneness it indicates there is no difference, if we see Jesus, we see the Father. Seeing the Father we see Jesus. This is God’s hope for each of us. God loves us so much that God desires we be one with him and he be one with us. It is the example of Jesus and the hope we all carry.
In this oneness the Father and Jesus act with the same divine power. They have the same actions and they are the same being. This is possible because with the Holy Spirit they share the same diving nature. It is why Jesus sends us the Spirit, so we too can share in the nature of the Father and the Son. We can be in communion with God, accepting God’s mutual indwelling with us. It is great love the God wants to share all that he has and all that he is with us. We see this through his relationship with his Son. The Father and the Son are one, hoping we choose to be fully in God and we too may become one.In this oneness the Father and Jesus act with the same divine power. They have the same actions and they are the same being. Click To Tweet
This unity between Father and Son comes from Jesus speaking about identity and equality with the Father. They are so united that we see Jesus telling the listener they are one. We know this as a mystery. Jesus further describes in a later verse that the Father is in him and he in the Father, a total communion between Father and Son, one God. The relationship is one of communion and mutual indwelling. It is a connection so united that speaking to one is speaking to both.This unity between Father and Son comes from Jesus speaking about identity and equality with the Father. Click To Tweet
This is the unity God wants to grace us to receive. God wants a perfect union between ourselves and himself. One that allows us to know God in word, deed, and spirit. In this way we will not only know the love of God but love like God. God desires our unity with him to be total and complete love, lived mutually.
The readings have a thread of God drawing closer and closer to his creation. We see in the first reading that God’s plan includes all in learning of his plan for salvation and eternal life. The chosen people were selected to be a light. Jesus’ incarnation expands God’s teaching to all of humanity. In the second reading we see the victory of God’s plan. The message of God is spread so wide that the heavens are filled with those who seek unity with God. Finally in the third reading we hear that Jesus never loses one of his own, and that besides belonging to Jesus the sheep are the Father’s. When Jesus declares Father and Son are one, it is said so we may know this unity, this communion is available to all who believe. God seeks indwelling and the teaching from Jesus shows how fully God wants to be in communion with us.When Jesus declares Father and Son are one, it is said so we may know this unity, this communion is available to all who believe. Click To Tweet God seeks indwelling and the teaching from Jesus shows how fully God wants to be in communion with us Click To Tweet
The Father and I are one
This week’s theme is pulled from that beautiful line of Jesus speaking to the disciples in John 10:30 “The Father and I are one.” Jesus life sets the example of what it means to be a follower, to be a Christian. Jesus is speaking about unity, the Father and Jesus are one, they are united in all things and their plan and hope for the world is that we would be united with them.
What does it mean to be one, to be united? It means I have to love you when you are not loveable, and you have to love me when I am not loveable. You have to be Christian to me always, and I have to be Christian to you always.What does it mean to be one, to be united? It means I have to love you when you are not loveable, and you have to love me when I am not loveable. Click To Tweet
God and Jesus desire unity because they know we can’t accomplish much on our own. One of the first things Jesus does when beginning his public ministry is to gather others who will help him create a new life. The world was a place where people were on their own, no one looking out for the other unless it was family. God forming a covenant with the Hebrew people created a community that was so strong no one wanted to live outside it. When those who had an infectious disease like leprosy were put outside the village to keep the others safe their deepest hurt was not be part of the community.God and Jesus desire unity because they know we can’t accomplish much on our own. Click To Tweet
Jesus wants to expand the notion of unity in community. In the new covenant is goes beyond the Hebrew people, it is available to all people. Jesus wants his disciples to create bonds for all to be part of Him. To be joined to the Christ in unity.
Jesus foundational message is to love one another, as he has loved us. Love is an attracting force, it brings people together. When you love me I know it and I want to be with you, and I am attracted to you. Love is an attraction of all things toward all things. Divine love is the model we first receive. God giving us perfect love. We have to let God love us so we know love.Divine love is the model we first receive. God giving us perfect love. We have to let God love us so we know love. Click To Tweet
We have to love and be loved as people, attracted to each other in that we will sacrifice for the one another, forgive one another and be generous to one another. In this love we expect no repayment, we are satisfied in the love we give. It is a love we first see from the sacrifice, forgiveness and generosity we receive from Jesus.We have to love and be loved as people, attracted to each other in that we will sacrifice for the one another, forgive one another and be generous to one another. Click To Tweet
The best example of this unity in love comes from Paul’s reflection on the Body and the Church. He begins, “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:12) The body of Christ, although there are many parts must work together as one. The body is not a single part but many, the foot cannot say it is not part of the body, or the hand or the eye and they can’t ignore the other parts. If one part hurts the entire body hurts. Although they are independent parts they depend on the unity, so does the Church.The body of Christ, although there are many parts must work together as one. Click To Tweet
Paul goes on to tell us what it means to be one; to love one another (and if we don’t love one another we are just making noise). Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not jealous. Love is not pompous. Love is not inflated. Love is not rude. Love does not seek its own interest. Love is not quick-tempered. Love does not rejoice over wrong doing, but rejoices in truth. Love bears all things. Love believes all things. Love hopes all things. Love endures all things. Love never fails. “To love is me loaning you my strength without highlighting your weakness.” @andy_stanley“To love is me loaning you my strength without highlighting your weakness.” @andy_stanley Click To Tweet
We are to be one, like the Father and Son are one. We are one in the Body of Christ, the Church. We do it by loving one another. Forgiving one another. Encouraging one another. Accepting one another. Submitting to one another. Bearing one another. Restoring one another. Carrying one another’s burdens. It is all about how are in relationship with one another. If we can’t love one another, we are not united and we are not one like the Father and the Son.
It isn’t enough to know Jesus, and believe in Jesus, if we don’t do what Jesus asks. Jesus asks us to love one another as Jesus loved us. Jesus asks us to be one as the Father and he are one. Jesus wants a world where we are united, not in word but in action. We will be known as Jesus disciples if we “have love for one another.” (John 13:35)We will be known as Jesus disciples if we “have love for one another.” (John 13:35) Click To Tweet
As the Father and Son are one we are to be one. This requires we be in God and God in us. We must love so that we are united with God. We must love so that we have this mutual indwelling, and we are all one. We are the one Body of Christ. Jesus was attractive to people in his time because of his love. Loving one another brings God’s indwelling, it makes us one. We must be one as the Father and Son are one. This is the indwelling God seeks with us and we should be excited to receive and give to God.We must be one as the Father and Son are one. This is the indwelling God seeks with us and we should be excited to receive and give to God. Click To Tweet