Make Yourself At Home
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
In one of His last discussions with His closest followers, Jesus makes the same point three times in quick succession: Love for God is inextricably linked to obedience to Him, and God richly rewards our faithfulness(John 14:15-18, 21, 23). In the last of the three statements, Jesus promises a rich relationship with God as the direct result of our love-spawned obedience. He says we’ll feel “at home” with Him. What does that mean?
When a guest comes into your home, especially an important person that you don’t know very well, you may find yourself on edge, making sure you do everything just right, but you’re never quite sure if you’ve done enough. When a close friend comes over, however, everything is different. You prepare for the visit, but with a sense of anticipation, not fear. When you get together, you relax, talk, listen, unwind, and discuss things that are on your hearts. If an interruption happens, it’s no big deal. You pick up where you left off. The time together feeds your soul because you feel deeply understood by someone you trust and who loves you the way you are- no pretenses, no masks, and no games.
Our love and obedience to God are steps toward a relationship like one with a close friend. The more we obey Him, the more we realize that He is wise and strong beyond comparison. As we see Him work in our lives and the lives of others, we love Him even more. We trust Him more each time, and we learn to relax, to feel at home with Him. It’s not that we take Him for granted or that we believe we’re on the same level. That the limitation in the metaphor of a friendship. Our relationship with God is never between peers. It’s between a King and ambassador, Master and trusted servant, powerful Father and dearly loved child.
It is the most astounding thing what happened to a tax gatherer, a fisherman, a farmer, and a small business man- the disciples- when they lived with Jesus. They were transformed as the marvelous alchemy of His spirit had its way theirs.
The story of the prodigal son is one that most of us can relate to. We often see ourselves in one of the brothers. But the main character of the story isn’t the two boys but the father. It’s a story about a father’s love- the story of God the Father. One of the missions of Christ was to bring a understanding of God as personal One and not some distant Being separated from humanity and only appeased but never known. The story of the younger brother is one of a child who only saw his father as a source of supply for his selfish wants and needs. So he comes to his father and demands his inheritance and goes his way to live life as he wishes with no regard for any consequences. Sometimes that’s our relationship with God. We want to use Him to get our needs met, our prayers answered and our world fixed. Once we get what we want, we go our way until the next crisis and then we turn to God again. Over and over we repeat the process. In the younger brother’s case, there came the day when the supply ran out permanently. His acquaintances abandoned him and left him to starve. Finally at the end of his rope, he began to think about his father. He remembered the kindness and care his father had shown even to the least of servants. Although he didn’t know his father as a father, he knew him as a good man and decided that he would go home and become a servant. He knew he would be treated well and at least he wouldn’t have to eat with the pigs. But how little he knew the Father. That’s us! Many of us have chosen our own paths and they have led us into a miserable, wretched life. Once we decide to come home, to ask Christ to be our Savior, we still only see ourselves as servants-and not children. Like this younger son, we are so happy to have a warm safe place to stay, we’re content just being servants. But the Father wants more. His heart has room for children- even those who have strayed from home. So when the wayward son came home, the father threw a party. He was welcoming not a servant but a son- a son who had been dead to him and now was alive and home. That’s how God acts when we come to Him in repentance and acceptance. Cast away are our sins, our wrongs, and our failures. No longer do we smell like the pigs and are clad in the rags of the world. The Father has welcomed in His home, bathed us in His love and grace, and proclaimed us as His child.
More sad is the story of the older brother. Although he lived at home with the father, he never knew him as a father. Instead, he only saw him as a master, a boss. He had access to the possessions and more importantly a relationship with the father but only saw himself as a servant. How often it is that Christians make their relationship with God one of master and servant. Oh to be sure, He is our Master and we are His servants. He is exalted far above us or anyone. He is the Sovereign Lord over all creation. But He is first of all the good Father. That’s what Jesus wanted us to see. Not just a deity to be worshipped, feared, and served. Not just stale rituals designed to appease an exalted Deity. Not an unknown, unseen god that can never be known and loved. But a Father who holds His children in the storms of life, who longs for fellowship and conversation-the ultimate father any child could imagine. While God is so much more than we can imagine, while He evokes awe and reverence, and while He is to be honored and glorified, He also bends low so that He can be touched by broken humanity. Old Testament believers saw Him as Almighty God, the Supreme Being, One to be feared. Hebrews describes the meeting place where the Israelites in the wilderness saw God as a mountain filled with fire and smoke and dark clouds. It was a fearful place, a place of awe and wonder where man was separated from God, where sin placed a barricade between a holy God and the sinner. But the writer of Hebrews draws our attention to another mountain- Mount Zion- the city of God. He tells us that this is the place God wants us to call home. It’s a place of beauty and splendor, designed with the children of God in mind. It’s a place where children and Father can walk together, play together, and fellowship together for eternity. In John fourteen, Jesus describes this home. And He gave us an invitation to come home with Him. One day we will. Right now Christ is waiting for us to invite Him into our home-our hearts. He wants us to be comfortable being with Him and having Him with us. We don’t have to try to impress Him or try to earn His love. He gives His love freely and He accepts us as we are. Why don’t you answer the door? He’s knocking. Invite Him in, pull up a chair as two old friends and enjoy the visit.
Dr. John Thompson