When we lived in Graham, we had next-door neighbors who loved our children. Our son, Jesse, had learned that he could knock on their door, and walk away with a fistful of cookies. We told our son, after this happened several times, that we didn’t want him to ask the neighbors for cookies any more. So, our four-year old would go and stand in their carport, looking longingly at the door, until Diane saw him and came out. Jesse then asked, “What have you got in your house?” Hey, he wasn’t begging for cookies! My son knew that whatever she had was his for the asking, because Jim and Diane had made all our children feel at home there.
What happens when somebody feels at home in a place? Or, how does a person act when he does not feel at home? The way I felt at my Grandmother’s was way different than how I feel when I visit the Biltmore House. Whenever I go there, it drives me crazy because I like to experience something. They won’t even let me touch the furniture. They said, “No,” when I asked if I could crawl up into Mr. Vanderbilt’s bed to see how comfy it was. They said, “Forget it,” when I asked if I could swim in his indoor pool, or fix a sandwich in his kitchen, or even play one lousy game of billiards. You can look, they said, but you may not touch. As much as I tried to make suggestions at the Biltmore House about making the place a bit more inviting, they were not interested. When I pulled my grill out of the trunk and set it up on the front yard for a cookout, you should have seen the security guys come running. Whenever I’m there, even though I have to take out a loan to go inside the place, they make it clear that I am not welcome to make myself at home. That’s not the way it was at Nana’s house growing up. I could walk into the kitchen and get something to eat any time. I could use any of the furniture in her house; in fact, Cindy and I ended up with a house full of it when we got married. When I was at Nana’s, I didn’t have to worry about being loved or accepted. I felt it. I knew it. I was at home.
When Paul writes, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly,” it is the same the idea. It means, let the Word of Christ, even Christ himself, be at home in you. Let him have the run of the place and make it his own. Let him change the way you live, the way you think, even the way you feel. Sadly, for some who follow the Lord, that’s not the way it is. He is only welcome to be a guest, but never welcome to call the shots. Some say, “OK, Lord, you can come into this room, because this is where I pray, but don’t look in there. And no way will you look under my bed or in my closet!”
I heard one preacher say a woman bragged that she had been through the Bible 37 times. He smiled and said, “How many times has it been through you?” The question is not, how much Word do you know, but how much has the Word moved in and taken up residence? You have to watch that Jesus of Nazareth. He won’t just take up space; he will take over. That, my friends, is exactly what is supposed to happen. He is Lord.
We moved away from Graham many years ago, but we remember with gratitude the good neighbors we had there. We knew that with them, we were right at home.
Is the Lord at home in you?