Christ in the Heart (2)

“…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith… ” (Ephesians 3:17)

Bible Reading: Ephesians 3:16-17

We return to the idea of Christ dwelling in the heart by faith because it is so crucial to our Christian experience. Our life in Christ is one in which he is to be the centre of our existence and the one by whom we live each day. And this happens through the exercise of faith.

Perhaps the easiest way to explain this elusive idea is to give an example. As a person, I have an inner being, a heart out of which I speak, make choices, have desires, and commit to actions. And I can function only at that level. Indeed, that is the way we naturally operate.

So it is that on Tuesday mornings at present, I wake up aware that before me lies the happy prospect of joining some 35 other veteran golfers for a friendly competition at a course half an hour away from where I live. Given my love of the game, it is very easy for me to let the prospect of hitting a little white ball around an 18-hole golf course dominate my thinking. It can easily consume me.

When that happens, there is no real sense in which Christ can be said to be “dwelling in my heart by faith.” The Holy Spirit may be in me, but Christ is not at the forefront of my consciousness or ruling in my heart. My eager desires are.

But if upon waking I go to my study and there spend time with God, something else happens. I become aware as I read and meditate on the Bible, write in my journals, and pray, that there is another reality beyond golf and the natural thoughts and feelings that are flooding my mind. There is the unseen world of spiritual reality that centres on God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As that world comes to life within me, so too does my awareness of Christ and the reality of his indwelling presence. Soon, it is he that is dominating my thoughts and feelings and purposes. In other words, it is he who is “dwelling” in my heart and controlling it.

But this happens only through faith. It is the very nature of faith to give substance to that which is unseen (Hebrews 11:1). It takes things we hear or read about and makes them real to us. We cannot see Christ dwelling within us, but faith makes him as real to us as the chair we may be sitting on or the house in which we are living.

Such faith is the gift of God. It is something, as we have seen, that we exercise in the form of trust and assured conviction, but it only comes from God. That is why Paul prays for the inner strengthening of his readers – so they might enjoy the constant experience of Christ dwelling in their hearts by faith.

 Closing Thoughts:

  • Do you know what it is to have Christ filling your thoughts and controlling what you do?
  • Can you appreciate why we need to pray for the Holy Spirit to strengthen our faith?

– Andrew Young