So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
When I read this scripture trying to figure out it’s purpose I began to wonder why these two words were added at the end of this phrase. The scripture could have stood on it’s own without it…
So that Christ may dwell in your hearts.
This scripture still would have made sense to us as readers. It doesn’t need those last words to be understood, so why add them? I began to ask myself is this “faith” a means to the Lords presence in my life? Is faith necessary in order for the Lord to dwell in my heart? That doesn’t really sound like the God I serve…I don’t think this scripture was meant to be treated as an if-then statement. If I have faith, THEN the Lord will dwell within me.
In Rob Bell’s book, What Is the Bible?, he talks about how Paul’s purpose in the first three chapters of Ephesians is to simply tell us who we are in Christ. After this affirmation, he then gives us instruction on living, that through faith the Lord will continue to dwell. In the same way, the beginning of this verse is meant to simply tell you who God is. The Lord desires to dwell within your heart. He is always functioning out of a desire for relationship, but then there’s our challenge to have faith. View it as accountability.
God isn’t saying “You must have faith,” but “will you have faith?”
The Lord is simply asking “Will you have faith to let this process of dwelling continue in your life?” So why did I choose to interpret the scripture like this? I guess you could argue that this is simply just my young twenty-year-old mind choosing to take it in this way. I would argue that the interpretation is clear based upon who our God is. Our God has always been a God of choice, not one of force. Force is not found within the confines of love; it cannot exist there, and this is what we believe Christianity to be based upon.
- Adam and Eve had a choice in the garden.
- Jonah had a choice to go to Nineveh.
- Jesus had a choice to be sacrificed for our sin.
- The man at the pool in John 5 had a choice to be healed.
- Abraham had a choice to sacrifice Isaac.
- Israel had a choice (a few actually) to choose a king apart from God.
- Naomi had a choice to stay with Ruth after her family had died.
If you’ve read my previous blog on this story, you know why I love it so much. This story shows us that love and choice are interchangeable. If force cannot be found within the confines of love, then choices must remain within it. If these choices are found all throughout scripture, why in the world would we believe that God would treat us any differently? The Lord desires to give you the same choices.
God gives us the choice to have faith.
So now we ask the question: what in the world is faith? What does it mean? How is it described? Similar to the word love, faith gets thrown around so much that it has lost its meaning. We use these words so often that we’ve forgotten the truth behind them. In the midst of researching how faith can be described, I stumbled upon a passage of scripture through another blog I had found (also really great and more detailed if you want to give it a read). It brought me to Luke 7, kind of long but bear with me here…
The Faith of the Centurion
7 When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum.2 There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die.3 The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant.4 When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this,5 because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.”6 So Jesus went with them.
He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.7 That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.8 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
Here the centurion knows that his servant is dying but he tells Jesus, “Say the word, and my servant will be healed.” He knew how powerful Jesus word was. He then goes on using illustrations (verse 8) to further show his understanding of what it looks like to be taken at your word.
Great faith is simply taking God at His word.
- When the Lord told Noah to build an ark, he took Him at His word.
- When the Lord told Abraham to go to a new place and leave behind everything he knew, he took Him at His word.
- When the Lord told Sarah she was going to have a son in old age, she took Him at His word.
All of these individuals took the Lord at his word even when it didn’t make sense to.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Despite logic or reason, these people continued to take the Lord at His word. They had paid close attention to the work the Lord had done in their lives prior to this moment, knowing that the steadfast love of the Lord would continue to their trials.
This described faith is necessary in the dry seasons when you forget what you know.
One of my biggest challenges in my faith walk is the constant battle of head versus heart. I’ve walked with the Lord my entire life. I’ve learned about the Lord in school and in church all 22 years of my life, yet I still fall short. If I know the Lord is faithful, why don’t I feel that way. I believe God to be a good God, but sometimes I still wonder if there’s any “good” left for me. I am in a continuous roller coaster of emotions trying to get to a place where my heart finally catches up with my head, and praise God for His patience and grace through this process.
Ephesians 3:17a “Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you.”
Faith in the Lord is a process. The Lord dwells within you, but I believe to understand Him fully, we must continue to have faith every day. It’s a daily walk. The Passion Translation affirms this idea through its interpretation of this scripture. The more you choose to have faith in the Lord, the more He will reveal Himself to you. I believe by having faith you activate the spirit that is inside you. We have the easiest job in the world, to say yes to the choice He’s given us. That is my prayer for you: that you will lean into the Lord that you will take Him at His word, and you will always be willing to say yes.