“so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…” (Ephesians 3:17).
Paul continued his prayer for the church to be united to Christ’s love by praying that Christ would dwell in our hearts. But what does Paul mean? Christ lives in every believer by His Spirit, so what does Paul intend when he asks for Christ to dwell in our hearts through faith? Why would he pray for believers, people who have been “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13) to be indwelt by Christ?
The question is answered through consideration of the word “dwell.” By using it, Paul indicates he wants Jesus Christ to settle down and feel completely at home inside a believer. Paul wants Christ to take up permanent residence in the heart of every believer. He imagines our hearts as a home. He sees Christ inhabiting every part of that home, without restriction of any kind. He longs for Jesus to be a comfortable resident, the King of the home, rather than a mere visitor, barely allowed to rest within. Paul wants Christ to rearrange the furniture of our hearts.
If Paul’s prayer came to pass, Christ would be at the center of our personalities. His cross and gospel would so shape our values and our living that He and His truth would impact every outworking of our lives. As Christ becomes famous in an individual believer’s heart, Christ becomes visible in an individual believer’s life.
Poverty begins to decrease as people become overwhelmed with a generous heart like Jesus. Marriages and families begin to grow strong as people learn to forgive and serve like Jesus. Adoptions begin to occur as people learn of the family of Jesus. Sin begins to be cast off as people learn how much God paid for them: the blood of Jesus. Worship begins to be fervent as people learn the unsurpassed value of Jesus. Prayer begins to align with God's purposes as people learn the priority of the kingdom of Jesus. Justice begins to flow as people learn of the just heart of Jesus. Disciples begin to develop as people learn to have the mind of Jesus. Those enslaved to sin begin to be loved as people learn of the compassion of Jesus. Churches begin to be planted as people embrace the mission of Jesus. When Jesus is famous the core motivations of our hearts are deepened. The applications are endless.
The person who has allowed Christ to dwell — to settle down and feel completely at home — in their hearts can say with Paul, “the love of Christ controls me” (2 Corinthians 5:14). His love becomes the driver of your every action.
During Fall 2017, I taught Calvary Monterey the book of Ephesians. During the series, I also wrote about Ephesians in sixty-plus short, devotionally styled posts. Each Thursday, through 2018, I will release a post. I hope you enjoy. For the entire series, please visit nateholdridge.com/united-for-unity-posts.