God Lives in Our Hearts
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.1 Jn 1:1-5 (ESV)
In John 14 and 15, we are introduced to the concept of dwelling together with Christ and by extension, God. In fact, in John 14, Christ prepares us for this concept by explaining in detail that God dwells in Christ.
“If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.”Jn 14:7 (ESV)
“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does His works.”Jn 14:10 (ESV)
In John 14:23, Christ extends this invitation to us, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
The Relationship between the Father and the Son
To get the fullest understanding of the indwelling God, it is important to understand the relationship between God and His son.
In dismissing the doctrine of the Trinity, it is easy to overlook just how close the relationship is between God and Christ. In Hebrews 1:3, Paul declares, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature…” (ESV).
If we were to use the Sun as an analogy for the glory of God, then, Christ was not the moon, not a mere reflection of the Sun, it is as if a portion of the Sun is carved out and placed to the side and this is the radiance of God’s glory. Christ is the rays of the sun.
There are so many portrayals of Jesus in popular culture. Physically, he is generally portrayed as a baby in Mary’s arms – the Lion of Judah but caged and impotent – or as a weak, insipid white male with flowing hair and beard. (see my previous reference to Dorothy Sayer’s article on this topic)
In truth, physically, he was a 30-year-old Jewish male who presumably knew his way around carpentry tools and was not averse to being very firm, strong and passionate. He was not weak and incapacitated as a baby in Mary’s arms, he was not a really nice guy. He was a powerful, adult man, who knew what he was about, who had a close and sustained relationship with the Father and who’s will entirely matched that of his Father.
I and the Father are one? That was visible at a moment’s notice and lengthy consideration only strengthened that impression.
The Light of the World
John says that he had heard him, seen him, considered and observed him and ultimately touched him and all the expressions of Jesus’ physicality were of light. Even a detailed consideration just confirmed the initial impression that here was a creation of LIGHT.
This was deliberate. Christ intended to portray light. He states,
“I am the light of the world. The one who follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”Jn 8:12 (NIV)
“Every generous act of giving and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father who made the heavenly lights, in whom there is no inconsistency or shifting shadow.”Jas 1:17 (NIV)
Paul, taking his lead from Christ says,
“So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less?”2 Cor 12:15 (NIV)
“But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.”Phil 2:17 (NIV)
In the same way that Christ portrays God perfectly to us, we are to portray Christ to the world as Paul portrayed Christ. When you saw Christ, you saw God. Not a pale reflection, John declares that the observing of Christ brought a message, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 Jn 1:5 – ESV)
It follows then that as followers of Jesus, those who observe us, must be able to clearly define this same message, the message of indwelling God. When we are observed, by the very fact that we are willing to forsake all to bring others to the light, to be spend and to expend our very life to bring them life, to be the ultimate life givers, in that we give eternal life, we are a demonstration that God is light with no inconsistency.
This is the message that we have heard from him and proclaim to you that God is light!
As clearly as it could be argued that Paul was as Messiah to the Gentiles, we are Christ’s message to the world.
Paul makes this clear in 2 Cor 3,
“You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God.”2 Cor 3:3 (ESV)
As Peter says,
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the full knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence. Through these he has given us his precious and wonderful promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, seeing that you have escaped the corruption that is in the world caused by evil desires.”2 Pet 1:3-4 (ESV)
Our hearts inscribed with the letter from Christ, given all we need to declare the Light of God to men, we are Christ to the people we meet, we are in fact, LIGHT to the people we meet.
The Foundation of Manifesting God
The foundation of this principle is laid back in Exodus (and before). At the burning bush, God begins to lay out His plan for Israel. Over time He reveals His intent to call aside a people to be in effect, His priests in the brotherhood of nations.
At the burning bush, Moses asks God, “Who are you?” and God’s response in the Hebrew and as closely as we can put it in English is, “He who is becoming whatever He chooses to become”.
There are so many attempts to get this right that the waters are very muddy indeed, but the concept is fairly clear. God was stating quite clearly to Israel through Moses that He was willing to manifest Himself in their nation. He is offering Israel to be the light of the world.
Israel was called on to bear the name of God to the world (and does to this day). Of course, this invitation has been expanded to the servants of God called from the Gentiles and known as Spiritual Jews today.
God and Jesus Dwell in us
We are the inheritors of God’s name and because we love Him, the Father and the Son come to us and make their home in our hearts.
It is difficult to overstate the implications of this amazing situation. Out of seven billion people on the planet, God has called us and dwells individually in our hearts.
We bear His very presence to the world around us. His goals are ours, and we are no longer obedient. Instead, we must understand His will and in that understanding, work proactively to further and promote His will in a world that is broken and has little time for the things of eternity.
Our Task in a Broken World
In a broken world, we must be willing to spend and be expended to shine a light into the darkness, to be poured out as a drink offering. To pursue the excellence of Christ. To use up every last drop of our potential and abilities in demonstrating the Light that was in Christ and in God to a world that must be healed.
In short, if we have the purpose of God as our own purpose, no longer is this about obedience, it is about fulfilling a shared purpose of filling the Earth with the Glory of God.
If God dwells in our hearts, then we will do everything we can to enhance the glory of God and nothing to diminish it. We will shine with the perfect, unblemished light of God, in a broken world.