23 Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep My words. The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent Me. 25 “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
There’s a critical difference between Christianity and every other religion or spiritual practice: Christianity is a relationship. It’s not a set of beliefs, nor a series of steps-to-a-better-you. Believers are born into a love relationship with the God who created them, the Savior who redeemed them, and the Spirit who empowers their new life.
In today’s passage, John is recording a conversation that took place in the last hours Jesus had with His disciples before His arrest, trial, and crucifixion. They had just enjoyed the communion of the Passover meal. Yet lurking along the edges of that upper room are the shadows of fear, because the conflict between Jesus and the Jewish leaders is escalating. And then Jesus confirms their suspicions when He announces, “Soon I will be leaving you.” The disciples are filled with questions. Where is He going? How will they know the way without Him?
Thomas asks for what we all want: Tell us the way. Give us the Ten Steps to Be More Like You, Jesus. Jesus doesn’t reply with a method. He replies with a person: I am the way. And then He begins to talk in the beautiful language of personal relationship: love, home, Father, Friend, Companion.
God has never just given His people a set of steps to spiritual formation. He has always said, “I will be with you.” He has always transformed His people by being with them, in the midst of them. Walking with them in the Garden. Leading them through the desert, a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Taking holy residence in a tabernacle in the midst of the their camp, in a temple set high on the Jerusalem mountain.
John reminded his readers of all these places of presence when he said at the beginning of his Gospel, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” (John 1:4) Jesus: God With Us. Now Jesus makes an even more intimate promise: the Father, the Son and the Spirit will not only be with you, but We will be in you. Your heart, your life, your mind, your body will be our dwelling place.
“You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God Himself is present in you?” Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth. (1 Corinthians 3:16) What does this mean for spiritual transformation? If God takes up residence in our lives, He will begin to renovate. Clearing out dark corners of fear and disbelief. Sweeping away cobwebs of wrong thinking. Opening windows to let in the light of His truth. Rearranging the rooms of our hearts to be a welcoming place of love and grace, a sanctuary, a center for serving and sharing generously with others.
Do we have a part in this spiritual renovation? Yes. Jesus said it succinctly: love Him and obey Him. Open the door of your heart and mind to the new occupants: Father, Son and Holy Spirit who have come to make a home of love with you. Give them the keys and participate wholeheartedly in the renovation.
- Begin by examining your heart. Would you rather have a set of “To Do” steps to spiritual transformation? Giving the God the keys and letting Him renovate your life from the inside out—is that a relief, or does it make you nervous? Why? How do you need to pray, in light of your answer?
- Identify one area of your spiritual life in which you are trying to do the renovation yourself. Perhaps you are “working on” patience or discipline or forgiveness. Describe your “steps.” Now, picture giving God the keys to your heart and letting Him make the renovation. What would your part in this be? How would it look different than your current method? Ask God to show you the“next step” you need to take as you meditate on Jesus’ words in today’s passage.
- Ponder these scriptures. What do they tell you about how real spiritual transformation happens?
- Ezekiel 36:26-27
- Romans 8:8-9
- John 3:5-8 (The Message)
- As you pray today, thank God that you don’t have to work hard to spiritually transform yourself! Thank God that He is with you, living in you. Ask Him to change you from the inside out. Make the Father, Son and Spirit welcome in your heart. What do you need to do in order to love and obey Him?