Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.

John 14: 19

 

We enter a room that comprises the upper floor of a house in Jerusalem. The light is dim but not dark. By modern standards the room is sparsely furnished and minimally decorated. Yet, in its center all attention is focused on the Master, on Jesus, as He is speaking in a way that no one has heard before. He is sharing a strange account of the way that things will soon be for His followers. This will be a time of great upheaval and trial. A period of testing for their faith as they continue on in a world where power and position will seem to matter far more than a person’s desire to serve God and to follow His commandments. In a short while, Jesus dies a brutal death; evil appears to win; and hope is placed into a stone tomb.

 

Jesus already knows the pain that His followers will feel. He is all too aware of the sorts of agony that He will be asked to endure. The Christ also knows fully the victory that God is about to claim over all that is evil, against every rebellious thought and deed, and as an act of restoration and eternal hope in the hearts of people in every corner of the world. This is the strange and yet wonderful tension that is in the air on this Passover night. They celebrate God’s faithful rescue of His people from Egyptian slavery while awaiting the Lord’s return to rule over His creation, and they do this in the presence of the One who will make that long anticipated dream a living reality. God has come; Emmanuel is present. Life is to be claimed out of the death that rebellion proclaimed.

 

This is the truth that Jesus was sharing. There would be a moment in history when oppression, violence, and the evil that brings them would seem to achieve their end. But that moment would soon pass and the glory of God would be revealed to the world in the risen Christ. So, life would replace death, and each person who is willing to surrender all that she is for the sake of gaining all that God has to offer in Christ is made truly and fully alive. Jesus was put to death and then came alive again so that all others could put our dead selves behind us and join Him in a life that knows no boundaries and that has no end. Jesus knew that it would take a form of life that was supernatural and that can only come from God for His followers to make it through the times of trial to come. In the same way we can prevail over the antagonistic forces of evil that surround us in our world because of the life that Chris grants in abundance to His beloved people.

 

I have said these things to you to keep you from falling away.

John 16: 1

 

This world does not provide a very friendly or secure place for people to live. This is a reality that almost everyone faces. There is no protective shield or magic potion that covers us up and that keeps the evil that runs throughout the atmosphere from touching us in places that matter. Yet, in direct opposition to the forces of this world that are intent on causing hurt and harm stands Christ. He came into this world to provide the certainty and the soul-deep security that people need and desire. He, alone, stands between all that is evil and our lives. The presence of Christ in this world brings about the singular opportunity that people have to enter into a relationship with God that is permanent and absolute.

 

Yet, even for those of us who do know Christ, the forces of this world work diligently to bring about confusion and doubt. Admittedly, it is not easy to understand everything that goes on in our world or in our lives. Loss and pain are difficult to comprehend, and moral absolutes can feel very harsh or unloving. Yet, life is fond in God’s Word, and peace is enjoyed by trusting in Christ and through resting in those moral absolutes. Life is sacred, all lives are significant to God, and there are no circumstances that override these facts. People matter more than institutions, and lovingly caring for the needs of others is an important aspect of living out the Gospel of Christ. In the end, what we do and why we do it is what is important. Christ enables people to set aside fear and self-protection and enter into loving others and our world for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

 

These thoughts may seem rather disconnected, but they are a part of the way that Christ seems to be saying that He is leading me deeper into Himself. So, in that light, He is also protecting my heart and my mind from falling into the traps that this world tries to set for Christ’s followers. If I care about life, I must care for the living. If I am invested in people, I must love them regardless of where they are from, what god they worship, or differences in their language and customs. Christ holds His people close to Him. He embraces us with a holy and righteous love that leads people into service to His will. As we follow the will of Christ, we are strengthened in our capacity to resist the evil that surrounds us, and as we so resist, we grow closer to our Lord.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8: 31, 32

 

Where we live does matter. But the address where we receive our mail is not nearly as important as are other aspects of our dwelling place. Let me explain what I am getting at here. Most of us aspire to certain things when it comes to our homes. There are preferred neighborhoods, size of house, styles of design, and numerous other similar factors that we take into consideration when we seek that place where we will sleep at night. Our budget is certainly one of the big influences on all of this.

 

Yet this big decision about the physical location and structure that we call home is of minimal importance in comparison to the decisions that everyone gets to make regarding the place where our minds, hearts and our souls will reside today and for all of the days of our life. Jesus invites us into a totally different sort of dwelling place. Walls made of stone or of wood do not confine it, and it is not limited by any of the factors that define and restrain our choice of a house to rent or to buy. You see, when we enter into a relationship with Christ, God provides us with His infinite budgetary resources to use in the process of living life.

 

As we follow Jesus, He leads us into the all-encompassing and life-defining reality that is called God’s word. This word includes those thoughts and ideas that are written on the pages of the Bible, but it also involves much more. God’s word is relational. It is the great truth that is the center of creation, and it is the on-going personal revelation that comes to each of Christ’s followers through the Holy Spirit. This is the word that leads us into freedom. Our past no longer defines us, and we are loosed from the constraints of parentage and from all of the other factors that people use to inhibit and restrain the full expression of a righteous life. So, when it comes to my dwelling place, let me abide with Christ in the center of the Father’s will.