September 9, 2008 - Tuesday of the 16th Week after Trinity

Today's Reading: Ephesians 3:13-21

Daily Lectionary: 2 Kings 6:1-23; Philippians 1:21—2:11

that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height (Ephesians 13:17-18)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. St. Paul wants Christ to dwell in your hearts. Does Jesus live in your heart? He does by faith. There are lots of churches that tell you to “give Jesus your heart” or “let Jesus into your heart.” What they usually mean is that somehow, if you believe enough, Jesus will live in your heart. And you can be sure He is there if you really feel inspired, or faithful, or whatever. In other words, you check whether you've got Jesus by looking inside yourself.

But that is not at all what St. Paul means. Paul prays that Christ will dwell in our hearts THROUGH FAITH. And that means, actually, that Jesus lives in us on account of things that are not IN us but OUTSIDE of us.

Christ lives in you by Baptism. Christ lives in you by His Word. Christ lives in you by His body and blood. These gifts are OUTSIDE of you. They don't change. You can't meddle with them, fiddle with them, tweak them, or mess with them. They are Christ's gifts. They come courtesy of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent after He took care of our sins on the cross and rose on Easter. In other words, these gifts of Jesus are so certain, solid, and sure, that not even our hearts can change them.

Sometimes it's hard to see Jesus living in our hearts. We don't feel Him there. We don't seem to live like Christians. We sin, despise God, hate our neighbor. Then our conscience gets loaded with guilt. It's hard to feel like a child of God, that Christ is living in you, when you've got all that stuff weighing you down. That's why, to be sure that Jesus is in you, look outside. Look to the font, to the altar, to the Scriptures, to the preaching of your pastor. There you have the certain and solid proof that Christ does indeed dwell in you. And He can. After all, by wiping out your sins, He's made room for Himself. Now He lives in you and you in Him. And that's as just as certain that by living in Christ through His gifts, you are in God's own heart! In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

It was grace in Christ that called me, Taught my darkened heart and mind; Else the world had yet enthralled me, To Thy heav'nly glories blind. Now I worship none above Thee; For Thy grace along I thirst, Knowing well that if I love Thee, Thou, O Lord, didst love me first. (LSB 573:2)