Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself. (1 Corinthians 6:19)
As I get farther from the election and closer to celebrating the birth of Christ, I have slowly turned my thoughts from discord to harmony, from anxiety to advent, from worry to hope. I have changed my focus from men to God.
This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor to steady our restless souls; it leads us back behind the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 6:19, 13:8)
It has been important for me to lean into Christ, and to remember He empowers me through the Holy Spirit. As I remember this, I also recall how long God watched out for me, how ardently He pursued me, how patient and forgiving He was with me. There was so much then I did not know.
Even when I first began to explore my relationship with God – with Jesus who invited me to reconcile with our Father with gentle grace, with my Father who embraced me into His family with unconditional love, and with the Holy Spirit who never leaves me and reminds me of Jesus’ words – I had many questions and doubts. Yet as I blossomed in the affection of this Trinity, my heart and mind transformed. I fully accepted and imbibed the love and grace and wisdom God had to give.
For it is in the acceptance and consummation of the unconditional love and unlimited grace that we can give it. And when we give, it is not in the sense of re-gifting. Re-gifting means we have taken something and put it away in a closet with the express intention of never using it, but giving it away sometime in the future so it does not clutter our space.
True giving of God’s love and grace requires the soaking up the essence of this gift, and giving it as a divine inheritance, as a grandmother would give her grandmother’s beloved string of pearls to her daughter with the intent that it be given to her granddaughter. It is a gift as a grandfather would give his grandfather’s cherished watch to his son with the expectation it would be given to his grandson. This true giving is the lifeblood, the living water of being God’s temple.
“The mission of the church is to be for the world what Jesus was for Israel – a mission that will send us back to the four Gospels again and again, not only to be amazed by the power and love of God but to draw down that power and love of God, through prayer and the Holy Spirit, so that we can be Jesus people for the world, forgiveness people for the world.
There are no locked doors in the kingdom of God, and we who are charged to go into the world with the good news must pray them open so that the message of God’s unconquerable love can get in.” (N.T. Wright, Surprised by Scripture)
When we become the temple of God, we become God’s church. We become His delivery system. We can never, therefore, withhold love or grace or forgiveness. To do so means we do not follow Him. If we withhold, it means we oppose His will.
Daily, the Holy Spirit invites us to remember the words of Jesus, to keep His commands to love one another, our neighbors and our enemies. Daily, the Spirit empowers us to be light, to have the kind of heart out of which living waters flow. Daily, the Spirit prays for us to receive the full measure of the love of God.
We must allow ourselves to receive Him fully and deeply because unless we experience His love and grace at the deepest level of our being, we cannot begin to comprehend either the transformation it holds or the possibilities it offers.
I pray that from God’s glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit so that Christ will dwell in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it surpasses knowledge. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)
©2014, N.T. Wright, Surprised by Scripture, p.211, Harper Collins