I believe that these are big days for anyone who has decided to set their heart on the Lord. Anytime we choose to deny ourselves in order to set our mind on Him, He gives discernment, wisdom and strength. I believe that God is going to answer our prayers in a way that is truly far more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). We are just a few posts away from finishing our dissection of Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesus.
Ephesians 3:17, “...so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith...”
I feel fortunate to have grown up around the things of God. At a young age I was taught that when we believe in Jesus, He comes to live in our heart. I would imagine my heart as a 3D version of the shape we see posted during Valentine’s Day, with Jesus just chilling, sitting on its edge. Don’t worry, I now know that a heart isn’t actually shaped like this... I also now know that this is not what it means for Jesus to dwell in our hearts through faith.
It is still true though, that at the point of salvation, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us. 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?” In the Old Testament He had a temple for His people, now He has people for His temple.
What does it mean for Christ to dwell in our hearts through faith? When we talk about the location of God, we would technically say that the Father is in Heaven, Jesus Christ is at the right hand of the Father and the Holy Spirit lives in us. This means that the indwelling of Jesus in our hearts (which Paul is praying for here) is a mystery that not every Christian experiences. More than that, it is a mystery that will take you deeper in Christ and will open your life up to the working of His power and His love. We know that He always wants to work in the lives of those who are faithful to Him... and as we grow in our understanding of Christ, He begins to manifest Himself to our hearts.
How real is Jesus to you? We can measure our faith maturity by how real the person of Jesus is to us. Is He an imaginary being that we summon whenever we would like? Is His presence constantly known? John 14:21b, “Whoever loves Me will love My Father and I too will love them and show Myself to them.” He is not talking about showing Himself to them for salvation; He is talking showing Himself to them for revelation.
How real is Jesus to you? I’m not asking if the weight of His love real to you. I am asking is Jesus, as a person, real to you? Has there been a time when He has manifested Himself to you? Galatians 1:15-16, “It pleased God to reveal His son in me.” Notice: he wrote in me and not to me. There is a revelation of Christ to us that is extremely important.
It is said that Hudson Taylor - a missionary to China in the 1800’s - prayed this everyday: “Lord, make Thyself to me a bright reality and make it so intimate that my experience with You, Jesus, is more real than any human relationship that I have.”
When the person of Jesus is truly real to us, it leads us to a conscious fellowship with the Lord and an enjoyment of Him. It is similar to when you are spending time with your family or friends, and maybe you’re not really doing anything but you are just enjoying the fact that you’re together. When we are aware of the person of Jesus in the same way that we are aware of others, it changes the way we communicate with Him. He is no longer a figure within our imagination; He is near and He is present. It is an incredible thing to be doing nothing - to be driving, to be standing in the line at Walmart - and simply be aware that the Lord is present.
Understand that you can be a Christian though you have never experienced this revelation. This is what Paul is praying for the church in Ephesus... that they will know the real Jesus. This is my prayer for the church world wide... that we too will know the real Jesus in this way.
Director of Student Ministries