February 11, 2023 | By Jay Ashbaucher
It seems many people I visit with would like to be a disciple of Jesus. When he came to earth, he invited many to join him, but not all were ready. What does following Jesus involve? The Bible says God created the earth to be inhabited (Isa. 45:18). The earth is a biosphere. It provides everything our day-to-day lives need to be sustained and cared for. The earth is our home. Years ago, humans created what they called Biosphere 2. They made an enclosure that would duplicate the earth and sustain people who lived inside. It was an experiment to see if people could build and use it, if needed, to live on another planet. People lived in it for two years to test it. It failed to provide everything needed to keep people alive because it needed additional input from an outside source. It was later tried again, but failed again, this time for a different reason; the people could not get along. This experiment serves as an example that humankind cannot build a house like God can. The Bible states that “Unless the Lord builds the house they labor in vain who build it” (Psa. 127:1). God has another house where people’s well-being can be provided for. So, what does the Bible reveal about God’s other “house”, which like the earth, is a place where needs are successfully met?
A Bible passage tells us that every house is built by someone. God has a house, and Moses was a faithful servant in God’s house. The passage also says that Christ, God’s Son, was faithful over God’s house, whose house we are (Hebrews 3:4-6). Really? Is it true that believers in Christ are God’s house and Christ is over us? Elsewhere, the Bible says again that we are God’s house. It says we are God’s building, God’s temple, and the Spirit of God dwells in us. We, as people with faith in Christ, make up God’s house and He lives in our midst. Furthermore, if anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy and that is who we are (1 Cor. 3:9, 16-17). In 1 Cor. 6:19-20 we are reminded as individuals that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in us, whom we have from God, and that we are not our own; we have been bought with a price. Therefore, we are to glorify God in our body. This is because we are a house that God is building, and He lives in us.
The above texts in 1 Corinthians imply that God lives in each believer, and that we collectively make up God’s house, which is called “the church”; a house which Jesus said he would build (Matthew 16:18). Romans 8:9-11 tells us that the Spirit of God lives in us and if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, that person does not belong to him. Because we are God’s house and Jesus lives in us and is over us, what sort of people ought we to be, and what helps us to become that person? How does God build us so that we are a house fit for God to inhabit? And not only to inhabit, but a house He uses as a base of operations, out of which He accomplishes His goodness and love in the world. That is the real point. We become His body, a body that represents Christ’s ongoing mission in this world; we are doing his will and work.
According to the Bible, there is another house that Jesus speaks about. It turns out that Jesus lives in us, as his house, to spiritually and physically conform our bodies into the likeness of his body, so that in the future we can live together with him, in his house. Jesus’ disciples were terribly upset and confused when Jesus announced that he was going to be killed, rise again, leave them, and return to his Father in heaven. He comforted each one by telling them to not let their heart be troubled; but to keep believing in God and in him. “In my Father’s house are many dwelling places”, he said, “I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also” (John 14:1-3). In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, the Bible tells us more about how that will happen when he comes again. We do not know exactly what the house he prepares for us will be like, but we do know that it will be far more encompassing than we can imagine. It will include, not only living in a new body like his resurrected body, but his house also will include living on a new earth as our dwelling place. The new earth will restore or replace this corrupted earth that is our present dwelling place (2 Peter 3:13). Eternal life is what we have as our reward for leaving everything to follow Jesus. We will never die and will inherit and live in his new world. This is one of the end rewards of having Christ live in us.
Everyone needs a safe place to live, a place that lasts. Such a place is not guaranteed in this present world of suffering, heartache, and pain. Yes, there is a lot to enjoy about our life here, and the beauty of God’s creation is amazing. We do have many good moments. And, in Christ, we have an additional measure of goodness and safety; but evil is still ever present in this world to destroy all that is good. We need a world free of evil. God is building and will complete such a world, and as incredible as it may sound, much of it He has planned to make happen through us. We are God’s house, Jesus is over his house, and he is working in and through his disciples so that we have a part in bringing his kingdom to earth. Some aspects of his kingdom are here and now, but his full and complete kingdom is not yet. While we are praying for his kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven, our job as God’s people is to do as Jesus did; to go about doing good and sharing the good news. We are not to be overcome by evil, instead we are to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
Christ came into this world to save us from the world and its evils. Those who accept what Christ offers have a part to play. To those who put their trust and faith in God and in Jesus, “as a new creation in Christ, old things have passed away, look and see, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). Three things happen that will make all things new in our personal life and in the world around us. First, when we become disciples of Jesus, we become learners. To follow him is to remain with him and learn all we can about him and from him. Second, what we learn and receive changes us. What he said is true, “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after each has been fully trained, will be like his or her teacher” (Luke 6:40). We are being transformed into his likeness. Our human sinful nature, little-by-little, is being taken over by God’s righteous nature. Third, as this happens, there comes a point in the disciple’s life when we understand and accept that we are to be part of his mission. We get regularly involved in the works he trains us for. We are willing to do what he wants us to do, and go where he wants us to go. He gives us our daily orders and directs us, so to speak, as enlisted soldiers. We obey like Jesus did with his Father when he said “not my will but Your will be done.” Jesus lives within us building his house. Out of his house comes his life of love. Love is active. It means his goodness is lived out in our family, our job, our church, our community, our world – everywhere we go. “As you go,” Jesus says, “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19-20).