House-hunting with God

He does not only want to come for a visit, but move in right away. So what should we do when God says: “I am coming to dwell in your midst”? Here is the Chief Apostle’s explanation from a recent divine service.

“‘Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,’ says the Lord” (Zechariah 2: 10). This was the Bible text the Chief Apostle used on 19 December 2021 in Troisdorf, Germany.

Feeling happy in times like these? “This is not a human kind of joy that is associated with emotions and is dependent on the calendar or our mood,” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider said. “This is joy of a completely different quality. It is a deep inner joy, contentment.”

Where does it come from? “The Holy Spirit shows us who God is and what He does for us. This kind of joy can be experienced in a refugee camp, on one’s sickbed, in the hospital, or anywhere else on earth. And I can tell you: this joy can also be experienced there: the joy in the Lord.”

Closer and closer: first here, then there

“So what is God doing?” the Chief Apostle asked and responded with the Bible text: “‘I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,’ says the Lord.” And this came true in three different ways at once:

  • God came into our midst, lived among us so that human beings could come to God and then dwell with Him later.”
  • “The Son of God, God Himself, became incarnate to prove His love to human beings.” And this tells us: “I share in your concerns and worries, in your heartaches, your problems even until death.”
  • “God came in the Holy Spirit to live among human beings. That means He is constantly present. Everyone who comes to Him in faith and trust can receive comfort and help from Him and experience His presence.”

Always there: in His temple and in our hearts

“This is not everything, for He also lives in His temple,” the Chief Apostle said. “We can experience God in the the divine service, where the Apostles are active. God is active in the forgiveness of sins, in the dispensation of the sacraments, in the sermon. And even if the sermon is a little crooked, there is still something in it. God is omnipotent: He can give me the strength I need through this totally imperfect sermon.”

“God doesn’t just want to come and visit us, He wants to dwell in us. He wants to be with us all the time, not only on Sunday morning, but every day.” How is that supposed to work? The Lord Jesus Himself explained this very beautifully. He dwells in us if we keep His commandments, and His joy will dwell in us. “Love for God, love for the neighbour, the Ten Commandments—if we keep them in good times and in bad, we will experience the presence of God and will be able to rejoice.”

Clearer and clearer: inwardly and outwardly

“The Lord also dwells in the communion of the saints, the fellowship of God’s children,” the Chief Apostle said and referred to the effects described by the prophet Zechariah. “There is a beautiful image that describes where God dwells: old men and women will be sitting there peacefully, each leaning on a stick because of great age. And the children will be at play” (Zechariah 8: 4–5). The Chief Apostle went on to explain this image: “When God’s children are filled with the love of God, with the love of Jesus Christ, everyone will feel at ease, even the weak.”

Where God dwells “there is peace and love, not accusation, war, or strife. And even the outside world must see: things are different there, God sanctifies them,” Chief Apostle Schneider said. “‘For behold, I am coming.’ This is of course an indirect reference to the return of Jesus Christ. Jesus said: ‘I will come again and receive you to Myself. And then you can live with Me forever.”

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Andreas Rother
Chief Apostle, Divine service