Thursday, 5 March 2015

Making Oneself at Home with Distorted Images?

"so that Christ may dwell
in your hearts
Ephesians 3:17 (NIV)

I was thinking a little about that word “dwell.” How would you define that?

My dictionary suggests that it means to live in a particular place as a resident or to remain somewhere for a time. Likewise, a “dwelling” would be a place where one dwells; a shelter or a house where a person or persons live. That’s all simple enough, but I think there is still more to “dwell” when we dig a little deeper into the Greek as it’s used in Ephesians 3:17.

As I understand it, “dwell” comes from two Greek words. The first one means to “live in a home,” and fits well with our English understanding of the word. The deeper meaning, however, comes when we consider the second Greek word which literally means, “down.” This comes out more clearly in Kenneth Wuest’s translation of the New Testament: “that the Christ might finally settle down and feel completely at home in your hearts.”

Let’s think on that a little deeper. We’ve all been in one another’s homes from time to time, but we haven’t always been “at home” in them. Friends come over and we greet them at the door and tell them to “make yourself at home,” but it doesn’t always work out that way. I’ve been in some homes where I was clearly NOT completely “at home” in that I was uncomfortable and mindful of almost everything I said and did. There was a respectful courtesy and formality to the visit, but something kept me from being at complete peace and at home there.

I’ve also been in other homes where I could really “settle down and feel completely at home.” In homes like that I could really relax and put my feet up. In homes like that I’m at ease stretching out on the couch and even nodding off for a brief nap if the mood strikes me. I am so completely at home there that getting up and finding myself a cold drink or a snack in the kitchen is a non-issue. In homes like that the formality is gone and you really do “make yourself at home,” almost as if it were your own home. I’m sure we can all relate to that.

Bear with me as I now change gears.

A common evangelistic Christianese phrase we like to tell would-be converts is to “invite Jesus into your heart.” In and of itself, that’s fine, but I cannot help but thinking that such a mantra is still missing an important element. The Pharisees often invited Jesus into their homes too, and while Jesus did enter their homes and accept their dinner invitations, I doubt that He was able to “settle down and feel completely at home” there. As a matter of fact, time and again Jesus pointed out the shortcomings of his host, further suggesting that something was amiss and He was not yet able to “settle down and feel completely at home.” He was there in the home, but only in a cordial capacity as an invited guest; He didn’t really “dwell” there.

Sometimes I wonder if Christ is there in our hearts as simply a formal guest, or if He has been able to truly “settle down and feel completely at home.” Does Jesus really “dwell” in me in the truest sense of the word? Does Jesus really feel at home in me, or have I still shut Him out from one part or another of my life? Is He my constant companion, or are there parts of my life that make Him squirm and feel uncomfortable, as an outsider looking in to a place that, though invited, would just as soon not cross the road to go visit?

Let's take this a step further; would He chastise me as he did the Pharasees of old for bearing a distorted image of the Christian life? Yes, I invited Jesus into my heart many years ago, but has He really been able to "settle down and feel completely at home" ... in me? I wonder.

Something to think about. Peace.

Photo Credit: Patrick Subotkiewiez; Flickr Creative Commons

1 comment:

  1. excellent blog - pausing and considering the "quiet" aspects of our spirituality leads to a depth and quality and peace.