John 14:23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
The Bible uses all sorts of words to mean much the same thing. That is particularly evident in Psalm 119, which mentions the Word in practically every verse, but uses a number of different terms to do so. Here, where the NIV says “obey my teaching,” the Japanese says, “keep my words.” (That’s as in, “keeping the rules.”) Actually, this verse repeats the content of verse 15 and adds more, and it all brings to mind 13:17. “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” We know full well that “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) However, there are blessings to obedience, and we put ourselves in real danger if we forget that. Nothing could be a greater blessing than what Jesus says here: the Father and the Son make their home with those who love Jesus and obey Him. That’s what the Holy Spirit is all about, which Jesus talks about throughout this section. It’s not that we “earn” the presence of God by His Spirit, it’s that we get rid of the things that hinder His manifestation in and through us. Many people think of the baptism in the Holy Spirit in terms of spiritual gifts, but they are actually secondary. God pours His Spirit out so that Christ may be formed in us, (Galatians 4:19) as we are transformed into His likeness. (2 Corinthians 3:18) I don’t think we really grasp what a big deal it really is that God would make His home with us. If we really did, I think we would do anything to allow it to happen.
I’m talking to myself here. It’s been many years since I realized I needed to make James 1:22 the theme verse of my life: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” I have been a poster boy for knowing the Bible without putting it into practice. It’s not that I’ve done a lot of stuff that the world would consider bad, it’s just that I’ve been familiar with the Bible from infancy and yet haven’t applied it consistently. By the grace of God I have grown, spiritually speaking, and I’m understanding better and better what a magnificent thing Jesus is promising here. I want it to be fulfilled in my life! Realizing how long it has taken me to get to this point, I should have patience and empathy with those who aren’t there yet, as well as admiration and appreciation for those who have already surpassed me. I desire the manifest presence of God in every one of our church gatherings, so for that I need to be a walking repository of that presence. This is in no way to abdicate my responsibility for consistent faithfulness; exactly the opposite, in fact. It is as I am faithfully obedient that God will manifest Himself through me, for His glory and the salvation of many.
Father, thank You for this powerful reminder. Thank You for the various ways You have used me over the past week. I pray that today also I would be fully welcoming and yielded to You, so that I may speak Your words and touch with Your hands, for the blessing of all and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!