On my most recent trip I visited a country where there are temples everywhere, elaborate, gilded temples where one expects to meet with God. But he isn’t there. From Acts 17:24 we know that the Lord of heaven and earth does not live in temples built by human hands.
The Apostle Paul tells us that God dwells in my heart.
I pray that God would strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being from his glorious unlimited resources so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.Ephesians 3:16–17
Dwell simply means to inhabit or reside—to be at home. A quick history lesson reminds me that God first voluntarily chose to dwell, to put his presence, his shekinah glory, in the tabernacle (Exodus 25:8 Have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them), and then in the temple (2 Chronicles 5:13–14) After that God became flesh and made his dwelling on earth (John 1:14). But then Christ sacrificed himself and so now there is no longer a temple requiring sacrifices of bulls and goats, no priests needed for mediation, no need even to have Jesus Christ on earth. Instead, his glorious presence is in me. He dwells in me! And also in the hearts of all who surrender to him and invite him in! We are his temple! (1 Corinthians 3:16). He goes with us. We are never alone.
Currently I dwell in Richardson, Texas with my husband Mark. We have a physical house that suits us, but dwelling really isn’t about the building itself. Dwelling is about the way I live and who I live with. Mark and I made our first home together 27 years ago. At first there was awkwardness, uncertainty and messiness. The dwelling wasn’t so orderly or routine. We had to figure out what each other liked and how to be at home together. There were times when we didn’t get along very well, or we yelled or used a tone, when we ignored or refused to speak to each other. And there are still days when the dwelling is untidy and needs cleaning up, when making a home together isn’t yet what I’d like it to be. But the great thing is that Mark didn’t wait until I had everything perfect before he agreed to dwell with me. And despite how I treat him or what our relationship is like on a given day, he is still here dwelling with me. He made a covenant and he stayed.
Over time, we have become more comfortable together. We now have a routine we both understand and enjoy. We truly know each other. We are vulnerable, honest and intimate with each other. We have created a place to be at home, to rest and be ourselves—to dwell.
But while I enjoy dwelling with my husband, the even sweeter reality is that God wants to dwell IN me—warts, spots, dirt, mess and all! He takes me as I am, but he doesn’t want me to stay that way. He wants me to get to the place of an old married couple who have dwelt together long enough to truly be comfortable together. This is how I want Christ to dwell with me—comfortable, honest, open, knowing and intimate, without embarrassment. I want to feel connected and close to him. I want him to become more and more at home in my heart.
For that to happen, I have to invite him, let him in, provide space for him. Of course, this is initially done when I trust him for salvation (1 John 4:15) but it must also be done daily. Every day I must give him space to make his home in my heart. I need to give him full access to everything without shame or embarrassment—my mind, my reading material, what I digest and live on, where I sit and fellowship, where I recreate and play, what goes on in my bedroom etc. And I also have to give him the right to ownership, the deed and title of my life. This means God calls the shots, cleans my house, directs my steps, changes my beliefs, speaks through me and guides my hands.
Finally, Paul tells me that all this happens through faith. Trusting God is key since this alone makes it safe to give him full access to my life. I trust that he will not abuse this right, that he will love me, that he will take good care of me, look after me, keep me clean, fix me up, maintain me and never move out, sell me or destroy me. And so I reach out, accept and receive his Spirit in me. Christ can make his home in my heart as I trust him to supply the rich resources I need.
So be encouraged with this very intimate act of God’s love for you. He will come and make his home in your heart. ALL of him, the sum total of all his attributes will dwell in you and never leave you.
How have you experienced his presence in you? What does your dwelling look like?
What adjustments need to be made in order for Christ to have full access to your heart?
I ask Lord, for you to make your home in my heart, to dwell here. In order for you to do that, I make space for you. I give you access and control of everything in my heart. Show me where have I not allowed you to dwell. Strengthen my inner being so that I may experience your presence in me. May you become more and more at home in my heart. Amen.
Years ago, I read a booklet by Robert Boyd Mauger called My Heart Christ’s Home. His work has influenced my understanding of this concept. It is worth checking out.