Christ at Home for Christmas
"So the word became human and made His home among us."
- John 1:14 (NLT)
We hear this verse every year at Christmastime. It is familiar. These are the same words we hear annually at church, on Christmas cards, in Christmas carols, etc. This is what Christmas is about—the guiding star, the vulnerable virgin Mary expecting a child, the young carpenter taking his betrothed to his hometown for the census, the helpless yet holy Christ child born into the world in a dirty stable, the lowly shepherds hearing the news, the heavenly host of angels announcing His arrival. The invisible God taking form as a human baby, subject to human limitations. It’s a story of nostalgia, it’s a story that evokes imagination, it’s a story passed down through the ages. And yet in the year 2020, this story can feel irrelevant, intangible, distant, and simply put: historical. The story of Christmas can, over the years, be reduced to a “tradition,” a Christmas pageant, a play, or a picture book we read to children.
When you think of the story of Christmas, what comes to mind? Do you recall an experience where the story of Christmas was made impactful or more “real” to you?
John 1 says that “the Word” (Jesus) was with God in the beginning. In Genesis, God’s spirit “hovered” over the waters as He spoke the world into existence (Genesis 1:2). Genesis 3:8 narrates that God walked with Adam in the garden. Scripture tells us that God dwelt among His creation. Then sin entered the world through the deception of the serpent and the great chasm between God and man became the new reality. But God still longed to live among His people! He spoke to Moses through the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-10). He guided the people out of exile through the wilderness by coming down from heaven in the form of a pillar of fire and a cloud (Exodus 13:21). He instructed the people to build a sanctuary where He would dwell and meet with them.
“Have the people build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them. You must build the tabernacle and its furnishings exactly according to the pattern I will show you.” Exodus 25:8-9 (NLT)
The people offered up the finest of materials for the construction of the tabernacle: gold, silver, bronze, fine linen, acacia wood, onyx stones, gems, etc. Exodus 25-30 lists instructions and specifications in great detail about how the tabernacle was to be constructed. There are strict laws on who can enter the inner sanctuary (only priests) and the purification rituals that were required prior to entering (Leviticus 16:1-34).
Before Christ, where did God “dwell?” Was it permanent? Was it accessible? How did the people experience the Lord’s presence? Who was allowed to be in His presence?
At just the right time, God incarnate in the person of Jesus stepped out of eternity and into time at a specific place in history, dwelt in a physical body, walked our earth, grew up in a family, learned a trade, made some friends, studied Scripture, followed Jewish law, and participated in ministry. He truly dwelled among us. Then after His death, He returned to His heavenly dwelling with the Father, but gave us His spirit to take permanent residence in our hearts if we so choose Him! But what does it mean for us right here and right now at this time in history that Christ, by His spirit, still “dwells among us” (John 14:15-20)?
“...Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” John 14:23 (NIV)
What makes a house a home? What do you look for in a “dwelling place?” Safety, comfort, stability, longevity, good schools, accessibility to work, nice neighbors, good investment for the future, something that suits your style, big enough for your family but not too much maintenance or work, location, location, location... I don’t think God thought of these things when He was seeking a dwelling place for His Son! Why would the King of Heaven want to step down into a cold, dirty, lowly, unsafe, unwelcoming, dwelling with neighbors who would not welcome him (John 1:11)? Neighbors that would reject Him, betray Him,
and eventually put Him to death? Not for comfort, convenience, prestige, or accessibility! But for a future investment!
The “future investment” is the salvation of His children (John 3:16)! His ultimate dwelling would be in the willing hearts of men and women! One of the Bible definitions of “dwelling” refers to a “humble and lowly” existence. We as needy, selfish, sinful, and imperfect humans, are the temple to a perfect, holy God? We are most certainly humble and lowly! Wow. That Christ would CHOOSE to take up permanent residence in our humble and lowly earthly tent is overwhelming and hard to fathom, that He would choose us to be the temple of His Spirit seems ridiculous, and yet that is exactly why Jesus came!
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?" 1 Corinthians 3:16 (NIV)
How will you take care of your “temple” during this holiday season so as to honor the One who resides within you? (Examples: proper sleep, reduce stress by limiting commitments, eating healthy, getting outside, staying active, and being gentle with yourself when you need a break, etc.)
May we care for and honor the temple God has given us in which His Spirit dwells. May we seek to celebrate Christ’s humble dwelling in our hearts. May we honor Him by removing our heart clutter and making room for Christ this season! May we seek to be a “proper host” for the King—in our earthly homes, and in our hearts.
“Look! I stand at the door and knock! If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”Revelation 3:20 (NLT)
These days it's not often you will get a knock at your door! And if you do, there’s often a worry that it is an unwelcome salesperson or maybe it's the kid next door who always wants to sell you something you don’t really want to buy. But when the knock on your door is from someone who simply wants to be with you, wants to spend time with you and wants to share life with you, that is a welcomed knock! We will stop what we are doing and open the door.
The Lord Jesus is always knocking, waiting patiently for us to open the door of our hearts, welcome Him in (mess and all!) and into our daily lives (mundane or eventful!).
Sometimes the Lord’s knocking may be repeated “lessons” He is trying to teach you. Maybe it is through the words of a friend. Maybe it is the longing in your heart for His presence. Maybe it’s through pain or overwhelming circumstances that finally wake you up to His knocking. This Advent season, how will you respond to His knocking? Ignore it? Drown it out with busyness? Avoid it? Put Him off until it’s “convenient?” Or recognize it and respond with an open heart to meet with Him?
Sit quietly before the Lord. As you reflect on your life, are there instances or circumstances where Jesus was knocking on your door? How is He trying to get your attention lately?
Picture Jesus standing on your front doorstep quietly, yet persistently knocking. Be honest with yourself. What would your initial thoughts be? How would you feel? What would you do?
This devotional was written and shared in the 2020 Bring Christmas Home Women's Experience resource menu.