There have been times in my life when I’ve learned something new from either living independently or in cohabitation.
I recall living as the youngest in my family when my sister got married and moved out. It was as if there was one less supportive parent-like figure in the house, and I had to get use to that by being tougher and less emotional. I recall my brother moving into an apartment. I was loosing a playmate. I felt I had to take steps toward being an adult in my parents’ house. I got a summertime job at a church camp washing dishes. It was my first time away from home and feeling the pains of homesickness. I recall attending seminary and moving away from home for the second time. That was great, but I had a roommate. In the next two years, I got engaged and married and moved off campus. I was more than ready. No regrets.
Each of these changes caused changes in the redefining of relationships with the people that remained immediate and those who relocated and sometimes that was me. Some changes were significant and some were subtle. One thing I did learn was that I preferred the changes I chose rather than those thrust upon me.
God is speaking to me through the upper room discourse in the gospel of John. To me, right now, Jesus knew that the most significant thing to share with his friends and learners before his arrest, execution & resurrection was that they would always be in an intimate relationship.
Psalm 114: 1, 2 speaks to me of this relationship. When Israel went out of Egypt and the house of Jacob from a people of strange language, Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion. The redemptive act of God for his people in the Old Testament was their deliverance from salary in Egypt. It was only God who could have done it, and it was God who saved them and led them into the Promised Land. The psalmist tells us that the saved people became God’s sanctuary and domain, God’s kingdom. It was in and among God’s covenant people that God chose to dwell. God is never choosing to be distant. God saves and delivers and makes whole in order to come and cohabitate with His delivered people. It was God’s intention in the garden. It was God’s intention in the portable tabernacle, and the temple in Jerusalem, and in Judah in the person of Jesus, and then in his saved ecclesia beginning on the day of Pentecost. We became God’s sanctuary, God’s dominion and Kingdom. Our response to this? Surrender all resistance!
Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.
--John 15: 4-8
This sounds like an organic relationship, and if there is no fruit, there are reasons. The branches have to be connected to the vine. Fruit will be seen and obvious. If we abide in Christ and what he says and has said lives in us, we will ask what we will and it will be done for us because of the organic, undeniable relationship we have with our savior, and the relationships we have with others our savior also loves.
God has chosen to save us with the blood of his son. In saving us, God goes the next step and has chosen to live in and through us. When it’s not obvious to us, there could very well be the maintaining of resistance on our part, resisting his will and passions to be on display in and through us.
Why do most of us remain stunted in our spiritual passions and reluctant to be in an intimate relationship with God? We don’t trust or love readily or easily. One would think it would be different for us when it came to God. Evidently not.
We prefer to fear God than love him. I’ve run into too many men in my life who will not say out loud that they love their wives, and I’ve found many of the same guys who will not say out loud they love God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit. This is a reflection on stunted spiritual passions.
How will we get passed this? The world will not get to the place it needs to be without a church that will be madly in love with Jesus.