04.24.13 - House guests...

Please begin with prayer for an open heart, before you read the passage below. Romans 8:9-11 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

One Sunday, about 6 years ago, my wife and I were coming to worship at POG and heard that there were some guests there that knew us.  We have both spent chunks of time doing mission work in Mexico and we were really close to a Pastor in Rio Bravo, right across from McAllen.  It turns out that the Pastor’s nephew, his wife, and a friend (with no papers) made their way to Austin to find work and knew there were connections at POG.  Well, after figuring out the story, my wife and I decided that they could stay at our place.

At that point, we lived in an 1,100 sq. ft., two-bedroom condo.  Thankfully, this was before kids, but it was still cramped living quarters for the few weeks they were with us.  We could get by with our Spanish then and the girl spoke a little English, but things were still lost in translation. The married couple used our guest bedroom and the single guy crashed on our 30 year-old couch.  I remember waking up for work and having to be quiet because I didn’t want to wake-up the guy snoring and drooling on my couch.  I remember coming home from work and there being grease all over our stove from the meals they would cook.

My wife and I engaged in an almost continuous conversation during this time---what was going well (which was basically they had a roof over their heads), what was next, how do we function now, and then how do we communicate healthy boundaries/expectations, while still attempting to be gracious and understanding of their situation.  It was challenging---these new guests radically altered our way of life.

The first and last verses in this passage talk about ‘through His Spirit who dwells in you’.  The verb for ‘dwells’ is similar to living inside or moved in and made me think of our Mexican friends staying with us and the impact it had on daily life.  Paul is appealing to the Roman Christians that their lives will be forever changed because of the new ‘houseguest’ and they are to live according to the Spirit’s reign.  This Spirit is the same that raised Christ from the dead (that’s incredible to wrap our minds around!!) and now indwells us and guides us.  If this were true, you would think there would be a change in our attitudes, speech, thoughts, relationships, daily activities, etc. that would be evident to all!

The new ‘houseguest’ is evidence of our conversion and a confirmation of our faith.  Galatians 5:16-26 talks about the evidence of the sinful nature and the fruits of the Spirit.  There is a tension between these, since our sinful nature is not eliminated until after death, but the Spirit will always produce fruit over time, if He lives in you.  According to Paul and the whole of the Bible, if there is no evidence of fruit from the Spirit, then we need to step back and assess whether we have faith.  Romans 8:9 states that ‘if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.’  So, Conversion = Receive Spirit = Fruit Production and No Fruit = No Spirit = No Conversion.

I think this change takes place over time, as we are disciple by the Spirit, but there is always change.  We are not called to compare our fruit to others or judge others fruit, but if our lives are no different than the rest of the world, it brings to question whether the Spirit really lives inside us.

Let us humbly receive our identity as children of God, walk in step with the Spirit, and allow Him to reign over our lives.  Identity always moves into action and the Spirit always produces fruit!!

Does the Spirit offer you confirmation of your faith or does this cause you to question your faith?  Have you seen a change over time in your life, because of your faith?    Do you compare your ‘fruits’ with people around you?  I would love to hear your journey and how this passage impacted you.