Robert Boyd Munger wrote a little book many years ago entitled, “My Heart, Christ’s Home.” It describes the beautiful truth of Christ’s indwelling presence going from room to room tidying things up becoming Lord of our hearts. Abiding in Christ and Christ in us are core truths for the life and vitality of the church. Jesus abides in us through the Holy Spirit. Listen to the way Paul describes it in his prayer for the house church in Ephesus:“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him.” Ephesians 3:16, 17 (NLT)
My heart, Christ’s home. How amazing! We have been talking about Christ in us through the Holy Spirit in our current sermon series on Foundation Stones for the Church. Last week we looked through the provision of Christ to oversee and direct the growth of Christ in the church through the gift of spiritual leadership. Javier Romero provided an excellent illustration of a complicated piece of equipment with no instructor or manual on how to operate it. We learned that Christ in us is a truly wonderful blessing, but like a complex piece of equipment requires instruction for proper growth and experience which Christ provided.
This week we are focusing on the fruit of Christ’s presence in our lives. Jesus himself said that if we abide in him and him in us that we would bear much fruit. He is the vine and we are branches of his life meant to produce luscious grapes of love. Love for Christ and love for one another! Paul mentions additional fruit – a variety of fruitful character traits from life in the Spirit in Galatians 5 —
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22, 23)
“My heart Christ’s home” is a fruit-bearing life. Paul contrasts the natural traits of a life without Christ’s indwelling – “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” He goes on to warn that “Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21
It’s important to note that these are natural human traits – acts and not fruit. They describe the natural tendencies of the degenerate human heart. But the beautiful traits from Christ’s indwelling are fruit from an inner life empowered by Christ’s abiding presence as quoted in the verse above. The beauty of Christ’s character defines those who live in him and who have made a home for him in their hearts. Jesus said that we can tell who belongs to him, “By their fruit you will know them.” (Matthew 7:16).
I don’t know about you, but I love fruit. However, I love even more the thought of bearing fruit – living the fruitful life of Christ’s presence where once there was selfishness, envy, and pride. We can’t fake this. The fruit of the Spirit is God’s gift – the miracle of Christ in us! This is what I want, what I am praying for in our church family and it’s how the world will be transformed one person at a time! Christ in us, the hope of glory!