This is the fifth and final 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. Four 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.
Three 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.
Two weeks ago 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.
Last week Jesus’ message was 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 with must love. It is love that unites Jesus and the Father and it is what 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.
We see in the readings this week that God wants to fully dwell in us now and in eternity. God desires it be as easy as possible for us to become disciples, God desires we live in a New Jerusalem with him as our light and presence and God wants us to know we will have the Father’s love. All this to further convince us that God’s greatest desire is to dwell within us. God does all the work, we must be open to accepting all God has to offer.God desires it be as easy as possible for us to become disciples, God desires we live in a New Jerusalem with him as our light and presence and God wants us to know we will have the Father's love. Click To Tweet
The readings this week are from the Lectionary for the Sixth Sunday of Easter; Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Psalms 67:2-3,5,6,:8; Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23; John 14:23-29. The readings guide us toward a message that God is working fully to indwell with us, now and through all eternity. We see a message of God making it easy, and Jesus telling us, “my Father will love.”
In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles we read about a gathering of the leaders of the church in Jerusalem. There was a debate in the church about whether new followers to the Christian way needed to become Jewish before they could be a member of the community. The central issue was around circumcision, the mark of the covenant between Jews and God. Paul and others argue it is not necessary for Gentiles to be circumcised to be followers. Paul, Barnabas and others represented the circumcision is unnecessary group. Others in Jerusalem felt circumcision was necessary. In the end the leaders of the church sent a letter indicating; “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities,” and they went on to speak about idols, appropriate dietary regulation and marriage. God wants it to be as easy as possible for people to become Christian. God desires full indwelling with people and so God minimizes what is necessary for people to come to a Christian community. God seeks our belief and openness to God’s indwelling. This was a big decision for the church, one that surely created division, but allowed the church to grow and welcome all who were open to God more easily.“It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities,” Click To Tweet
In the second reading from the book of Revelation John’s vision of a new heaven and new earth, continues. John is taken to a high mountain to see the holy city coming down out of heaven from God. He describes its radiance and beauty and the foundations of the city having twelve gates with the names of the twelve apostles and the Lamb. He completes the vision be saying there was no temple in the city, there is no sun or moon either, these are provided by God and the Lamb. In the New Jerusalem God is the light and the Lamb is the lamp. There is no need for a temple because God is present. We can envisage a city filled with the radiance of God, in all places there is light and God. Again a message that God wants to be completely present to all of us, to indwell with us through all eternity. As God hopes to indwell with us today, we should be working toward it and making it real in our lives. We don’t need to wait to some future vision for God’s dwelling, we can love God and be open to mutual indwelling now.In the New Jerusalem God is the light and the Lamb is the lamp. There is no need for a temple because God is present. Click To Tweet
In the gospel reading from John, Jesus is teaching a final message before entering into his passion. Jesus indicates if we love him we will keep his word and the Father will love us and “we [Jesus and the Father] will come to him [us] and make our dwelling with him [us].” Jesus goes on to promise the Holy Spirit, our Advocate. We will receive peace and hearts that will have no trouble. Then Jesus tells them that he is returning to the Father. The whole of Jesus message is a message of love that culminates in God’s desire to indwell with us. The Father will love us and then bring God within us, Father, Son and Spirit. The love in you is God, it is who you are. It is the presence of God within you. We have seen it as the Holy Spirit, but we must recognize that it is fully God within us. We are challenged to keep Jesus word and by so doing receive the gift of God. God wants to be our gift, God chases us our entire life desiring to dwell in us. In fact it is God in us that desires God to be in us. It is how we love. God in us creates our desire to love others, to see others as family and want to be self-giving and self-sacrificing so that others may have life. It is the example of Jesus and it is God’s deepest desire for each of us. If we let God in, we will be in the deepest communion and friendship with God.The love in you is God, it is who you are. It is the presence of God within you. We have seen it as the Holy Spirit, but we must recognize that it is fully God within us. Click To Tweet
This message of indwelling is God chasing us until we let him catch us. He is a lover than is relentless in his pursuit of his love. He will not rest, he will not stop, he will not distance himself, until we say yes to the love of God. We say yes to belief and keeping God’s word. God never wants to be any further away than in the filling of our heart, his presence inside us, giving us the desire to be close and loving.
The readings have a thread of God wanting to be close to us. In the first reading God leads the church to decide it should not be difficult for people to come to God. There should not be any unnecessary difficulties to get close to God and seek God’s communion. In the second reading from Revelation we recognize again God’s message of a new heaven coming down to humanity and that each of us in the New Jerusalem with have the light and presence of God available to us always. Finally in the reading from John Jesus tells us directly that God will love us and wants to dwell in us. This indwelling, this communion with God will include Father, Son and Spirit making their home in our hearts. God will be our God and we will be God’s home.
God desires indwelling with us because he loves us. God will do all the work, we simply must say yes, and keep God’s word. With our yes God enters fully into our hearts and it is God in us that desires to love and welcome more of God.
My Father will love
We have this message of Jesus telling us, “my Father will love” speaking about humanity who is willing to keep the word of Jesus. God is predisposed to love us as children. There is not more love God can have for us once God gives us his love. God will love us so deeply that God will enter into us, in full communion and remain with us as long as we are open to God’s presence. No matter what we do at this point good or bad God could never love us less.
God is for us. God flows into our lives. God desires complete indwelling with us. We cannot turn God’s love off. All we have to do is be open to it. We have to receive it, learn how to believe it, receive it, trust it, and celebrate it. Once God enters into communion with us, we have returned to the place of our origin. We have landed on the home in which we have always been searching. We are never fully satisfied until we have God within us. God wants that same satisfaction.Once God enters into communion with us, we have returned to the place of our origin. Click To Tweet
If we had to give God a job description it would be to love and to enter into communion with all of creation. Richard Rohr in a recent reflection quotes Catherine LaCugna (1952-1997) saying she, “ended her giant theological tome God for Us with this one simple sentence: ‘The very nature of God, therefore, is to seek out the deepest possible communion and friendship with every last creature on this earth.’ That’s God’s job description. That’s what it’s all about. And the only thing that can keep you out of this divine dance is fear or self-hatred. What would happen in your life—right now—if you fully accepted what God has created?”If we had to give God a job description it would be to love and to enter into communion with all of creation. Click To Tweet
So as we end this series, reflecting on God’s desire to indwell with us, we should ask ourselves several questions. Will we accept God’s desire to indwell with us? We will be open to God’s love? Will we accept God fully in our lives?
We have seen over the course of these five weeks that God wants us to receive the Holy Spirit along with the fruits of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) It is the very first gift from God once Jesus has completed the mission God sent him to complete.
We also discussed God’s vulnerability, that God wants our love and is vulnerable waiting to hear our response. God may have all the power in the universe but he waits on the love that only we can give. God desires our love and will do anything to convince us to be open to his love.
We then saw the message of unity that God wants to live with us when Jesus told us, “the Father and I are one.” This unity lived between Jesus and the Father is a total indwelling that God desires with us. Jesus constantly referred to the will of the Father and that he only came to fulfill the Father’s will. We too should be open to desiring the Father’s will and we too can be one with the Father, Son and Spirit. It is this oneness that God desires and we will receive when we say yes to it.
But we must also love one another. We cannot be united in communion with the Father if we do not love those who the Father loves. We must love our neighbor who can be anyone, anywhere who has a need we can meet. God perfectly loves and will be united with all who accept his love, we cannot go lovingly to the Father if we do not fully love our neighbor, even those who do not like us.God perfectly loves and will be united with all who accept his love, we cannot go lovingly to the Father if we do not fully love our neighbor, even those who do not like us. Click To Tweet
We have a real opportunity to live and love like God. In fact when God indwells in us our love is the love of God. We let the God in us love as God loves. We can’t be passive. We must actively seek God’s presence in our lives. We must fully accept God’s indwelling. We must let the Holy Spirit guide our lives. We must realize we too will be vulnerable when we open ourselves up to be loved by others, in humility we must accept rejection and turn it over to God. We too must be one with the Father actively seeking communion at every chance. We must love one another, which comes only by being self-giving and selflessness. Our lives are not our own, we live for the other.
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. It is God loving through us.
We have spoken about God’s desire to indwell in us, in fact it is God’s greatest desire. God in us desires more God in us. We must desire God’s indwelling as well. We can love no greater love than to open ourselves to accept God in our heart, letting God lead us and allowing God’s will to be our will. God will do all the work, we must be open to accept God fully as one who loves us, seeks unity with us, is vulnerable to us and asks us to love all of creation. God in us is mutual indwelling that satisfies our search to find home.We can love no greater love than to open ourselves to accept God in our heart, letting God lead us and allowing God’s will to be our will. Click To Tweet God in us is mutual indwelling that satisfies our search to find home. Click To Tweet