This is the fourth week of our series we are calling “indwelling.” It is a five week look at God‘s desire to dwell in humanity. 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 37 “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. Three 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 we have the full indwelling of God, and it is mutual.
Two weeks ago Jesus question to Peter, “Do you love me?” helped us explore Jesus vulnerably. How is Jesus vulnerable? He seeks our love and 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.
Last week we focused on Jesus words, “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 united and 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 week Jesus’ message is about loving and knowing we are his disciples. It is a central message to who Jesus wants us to be and how he wants us to live. If we are to be a follower we must love. It is love that united Jesus and the Father and it is love that drives God to desire to dwell in humanity. We are God’s creation, we are God’s love, and it is love that binds us and make us one with God. We’ll look at what it means to love and how love is the common indwelling connection between humanity and God.It is love that united Jesus and the Father and it is love that drives God to desire to dwell in humanity. Click To Tweet
The readings this week are from the Lectionary for the Fifth Sunday of Easter; Acts 14:21-27; Psalms 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13; Revelation 21:1-5a; John 13:31-33a, 34-35. The readings guide us toward the love of God and love for one another. It is love we are born to receive and transmit.
In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles we read Paul and Barnabas are travelling from town to town creating disciples. They went to many towns including; Lystra, Iconium, Antioch, Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga, and Antioch again. They would meet with the Jewish people and were proud they had opened the door to faith to the Gentiles. It is an example of how hard Paul and Barnabas are working to bring people to Jesus. They believed that their message was the best thing for the people and they wanted to be sure as many people as possible are brought the message of Jesus. It is their love and the message of love that is making a considerable number of disciples. Their efforts are remarkable converting people to the new faith, eventually called Christianity. It is not a simple task and it is a labor of love. They love God and the people so much that they want them united and able to know what it means to love one another. The Gentiles are pleased to be converted and understand the message of the one true loving God.
In the second reading from the book of Revelation John’s vision is of a new heaven and new earth, the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. Revelation is the vision of how things will be as told by John from Jesus. God ultimately gets his hope, to dwell with humanity, like a bride with her spouse. We are God’s people and God is always our God. It is a beautiful message of a future of perfection. It is also a sign of what can be now if we love and open ourselves to God’s indwelling. God loves us so much he wants to be with us and he wants us to be with him. There will be no more tears or death or mourning or crying or pain, God makes all things new and perfect. We can only be perfect if we are open to God dwelling with us. If we are united with God then nothing will hurt us and everything will be beautiful. God dwelling within in us, is our destiny. We should be working toward it today and making it real in our lives. We don’t need to wait for the future vision for God’s dwelling, we can love God and be open to mutual indwelling now.God dwelling within in us, is our destiny. We should be working toward it today and making it real in our lives. Click To Tweet
In the gospel reading John writes of Jesus’ teaching about glory and how what he is doing as a sacrifice is done to glorify God. By glorying God he will be glorified by God. God and Jesus are united and glorified mutually. But by far Jesus’ most significant teaching is his command that we love one another as he has loved us. It is by our love that everyone will know we are disciples of Jesus. Jesus is emphasizing this significant teaching as he readies himself to move toward the cross. It is as if he is telling us a final reminder, don’t forget to love. The whole teaching of Jesus, his presence in humanity, his doing the will of the Father, is for love. It is not some emotional love, some love of words and free spirit. Jesus loves sacrificially, everything is for the other. All his love is dedicated to serving others, first to do the will of the Father and to love all humanity. Jesus dwells among us so that we may learn what true love means. It is the love God has had for us since creation and why God wants to be united with us again. To love is to give everything for the good of the other. This is the love with which Jesus has loved us.The whole teaching of Jesus, his presence in humanity, his doing the will of the Father, is for love. Click To Tweet
The readings have a thread of love running through each of them. We see in the first reading the love of Paul and Barnabas for Jesus and the people to work so hard bringing new life to anyone who will listen. In the second reading John’s vision of God dwelling among us is a tribute to God’s love for his creation. God loves us so much he wants to be close to us, to dwell with us. Finally Jesus commands us to love one another and then demonstrates the way to love by sacrificing everything for his Father and us. The love that Jesus teaches is not easy, but it is a love that God delivers year after year to every human that will accept his love.Jesus commands us to love one another and then demonstrates the way to love by sacrificing everything for his Father and us. Click To Tweet
God desires indwelling with us because of love. We can have a perfect full life if we open up to God, return his love and we live a mutual indwelling with him.
Love one another
The discussion about loving one another is one we began last week. It was formed around the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 which described the church as a body with Christ. It continues to describe what love means: 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. This is the model Christians must use to love one another as Jesus has loved.
But Jesus also witnessed what love was from him. If we want to understand what Jesus meant we need to watch what Jesus does. First throughout his ministry Jesus is followed by people who were nothing like him but liked him. Everywhere Jesus went there were crowds. His most performed act in his ministry was probably forgiveness, he forgives sins, and wrongdoing and doesn’t condemn, but he does ask people to change. People crowded to see him.Jesus most performed act in his ministry was probably forgiveness, he forgave sins, and wrongdoing and didn’t condemn, just asked people to change. People crowded to see him. Click To Tweet
Before Jesus people could love God and have a good relationship with God, and not be concerned about their relationship with a family member or neighbor. As long as God’s law was followed, and all the laws of Moses were followed then you were considered good, perfect in the law and in right relationship with God. If you mistreated others it didn’t really matter as far as the law was concerned, you would have been pleased to be right with God.
Jesus made relationships with one another important with his new command, love one another as I have loved you. Stepping back we see other times when Jesus spoke about love. He was challenged by the religious leadership of the time. He was asked, “Which commandment in the law is the greatest.” (Matthew 22:36) Jesus responds, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
Then Jesus tells a story identifying our neighbor in which a stranger helps someone stranded and Jesus says the stranger is the neighbor of the person he helped. Jesus is telling us that our neighbor is anyone, anywhere who has a need we can meet. The one another part of Jesus command is our neighbor, is anyone, is everyone. In fact the best way to illustrate authentic love is by doing for those who are nothing like us and in fact may not even like us.The best way to illustrate authentic love is by doing for those who are nothing like us and in fact may not even like us. Click To Tweet
But Jesus does more, he has a Passover meal with his disciples and before the meal kneels and washes their feet. Jesus says no master is greater than his servant, and tells them to do as he has done. If we want to understand what Jesus meant we need to watch what Jesus does.If we want to understand what Jesus meant we need to watch what Jesus does. Click To Tweet
Jesus serves because he knows the value of a life is measured by how much of it we give away. Giving our life away is what makes it great. Selfless people are always admired, they are content, they are happy. Pouring our life into another is what really fills us up. Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, he told them to love one another as he has loved them. Then they left the meal and Jesus showed even a greater love by his sacrifice on the cross.
Being selfless and other focused is what Jesus did. We can see it again and again. Jesus word and witness indicates we should do the same. If we want to love God we must love our neighbor. In fact our love for God is best demonstrated by loving our neighbor.If we want to love God we must love our neighbor. In fact our love for God is best demonstrated by loving others. Click To Tweet
We must forgive one another. We must encourage one another. We must accept one another. We must submit to one another. We must bear with one another. We must restore one another. We must carry one another’s burdens. It is not loving one another as Jesus has if we don’t do for one another.
To love one another is to demonstrate we are followers of Jesus. It will also change those around us. People love to work with people who are true Jesus followers, they are honest and fair. People love to work for true followers of Jesus, for them for the same reason. People are glad to meet true followers of Jesus and see them create a church in their town. People love the people who love one another because of how they treat other people. This is the kind of knowing Jesus was talking about when he said they will know we are his disciples by our love. People may not believe in Jesus or even know Jesus but they will like people who are like Jesus.People may not believe in Jesus or even know Jesus but they will like people who are like Jesus. Click To Tweet
John wrote a letter and in it he tells us to love is to know God. “Let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8) The call to love is the call to be one with God, to open ourselves up to God’s indwelling and to enter into a mutual indwelling with God. It is the perfect love we hope to achieve and receive.
To love one another is doing what Jesus and the Father have done. Their love for one another opens up their mutual indwelling, they are very much like one another and so can be in communion with one another. We too need to love to be open to God’s indwelling and to be ready for our mutual indwelling with God. But as God desires mutual indwelling with everyone, we must also love one another to model that love required to dwell within one another. If we love God and not our neighbor, we can’t expect to be in communion with God. Our lack of love for our neighbor will be the imperfection that blocks our indwelling with God. So work toward love for one another as Jesus loves you and you will be one with God, a mutual indwelling and the vision of your future.We too need to love to be open to God’s indwelling and to be ready for our mutual indwelling with God. Click To Tweet