Sunday, May 4, 2014

Visitor or Resident?

It used to be that families built homes, settled in regions all pretty close to each other and then passed down the homes/land to their children.  This is not the case so much anymore, as we live in a pretty "mobile" society where families are separated and "heritage" rarely includes the family domicile being passed down.  Where we "reside" says a whole lot about us, though.  If we live in a cardboard box, or a piecemeal shanty, most would say we were "homeless", a "street person", or living in "poverty".  If we were to move to a nicely furnished apartment, the first two would likely not apply, but we could still be living in "poverty" as in America poverty is defined as making under $11,000 a year as a single person.  So, just changing where we reside doesn't always change everything about us, does it?  But...WHO resides in the dwelling does make a huge difference!  If the wealthiest of men took up residence in a piecemeal shanty, would we now call that person "poor" or "impoverished"?  Not likely.  In fact, we'd probably say they are a little touched in the head because to have all "means" by which to live well and then choosing to live in those conditions is definitely a little odd.  If we have allowed Christ to take up residence in our lives, and continue to live "below our means", we are no different than that man!

But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!  (Romans 8:9-11 MSG)

WHO lives within makes all the difference.  When I have guests come into my home, I usually try to put myself in their shoes and anticipate what they may need while they are here.  It might be that I bring in special food that I can make to satisfy their hunger, or perhaps their favorite beverage such as flavored coffees or green tea.  I put out clean hand towels and ensure the toilet paper is fully stocked.  The house is tidy and the door is open.  Why? I want them to feel welcome and I want my home to be a place where they feel comfortable.  Guests don't stay, do they?  Not indefinitely.  They have a set time of coming and a relatively set time for leaving.  One who resides in my home comes and goes at will, settles into whatever space they desire, and has the full gamut of conveniences, foods, and the like at their disposal. The one who resides within the homes gives a certain "feel" to the home.  Why? The home is a reflection of those who reside within.

When Christ takes up residence within us, we become reflections of him.  We begin to think less of the "old way" of living and more of how much his presence has changed the "feel" of our lives.  It is like his very presence gives us a "makeover" in terms of the old being gone and the new taking its place. The transformation may not always be instantaneous, but it is dramatic.  As a homeowner, I know how just putting a new coat of paint on the walls changes the very "feel" of the room.  Add a few new splashes of art or even a little better lighting and the transformation is even more dramatic.  The same people dwell in the structure, but the "feel" becomes different as the freshness begins to occur within each "space" in the home.  When Christ comes, he brings the capacity to give us this "freshness" we lacked by having things the "same old way" in our lives for so long.  Even the subtlest change can begin to make us sense tremendous outcomes!

We may have a broken down shanty at first - inviting him in to take up residence within the walls of brokenness we reside within.  In time, he doesn't just whitewash the walls of our brokenness - he takes apart those piecemeal ares and begins to build anew with solid and enduring "material".  If we were to stand back and observe all the work in motion within our lives at any one moment, we might just be surprised at how it all comes together!  As we invited Christ within our lives, we may have been a little ashamed to have to invite such a "person of means" within our crumbling walls of shame, guilt, and despair, but he wasn't put off by the "little" we had to offer in comparison to his "greatness".  He didn't expect us to put out the guest towels, but to give him a permanent place in which to allow a little piece of him to begin to affect one room at a time until all the rooms of our lives are made afresh and anew.

It isn't so much where we dwell, but who we choose as residents within our dwelling.  Just sayin!