Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly—Colossians 3:16
A few weeks ago, we had some family stay with us for a few days. They live about three and a half hours away, so when they come for a visit it is always a special event. I preparation for their arrival, we clean the house, over-stock up on food, make up the guest room, clear a path from the laundry room to the kitchen (admit it; you do the same thing), take out pillows and blankets, pull the mattress off the futon so the kids can sleep on the floor and generally put the house in order. And it stays that way for about, oh, the six minutes it takes the grandkids to drop their stuff on the floor, get out the toys, and make themselves at home.
Naturally, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our family is always welcome to visit us and stay as long as they want, which is never long enough.
After they leave, we pick up the house, put the guest room back in order, fold the blankets, replace the mattress, start a new load of laundry and then sit in silence. We miss the crowded living room, the noise and bumping into each other getting in and out of our one bathroom, but it’s nice to have the house back in order again. We made room for our guests, but now that they’re gone, we quickly put the house back the way we like it.
All this reminds me of the difference between a guest in a house and the one who owns and dwells in a house. A guest is not a permanent resident; a dweller is. A guest comes and goes according to what is convenient for him and the host. A dweller remains regardless of the circumstances. A guest does not have the right to paint the walls and move the couch near the window. Only the resident of the house has those privileges.
In Colossians 3:16, Paul tells us to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly. As I studied this passage, I began to see the differences between a guest and a resident. That done, I had to ask this question: Am I allowing the Word to dwell in me like a resident in a house, or do I simply invite it in like an infrequent guest, hoping it won’t stay too long and try to rearrange the furniture?
I like the way Eugene Peterson translates this verse in The Message. “Let the Word of Christ – the Message – have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives.”
The Message of Christ, the full teaching and knowledge of Jesus’ purpose and being, should have the run of my life. That’s another way of saying Jesus is King of my life and His every word is my command. I wish it were always true. But Peterson doesn’t stop there. For some mean and sadistic reason he adds, “Give it plenty of room in your lives.” Thanks, Gene. Not only am I having trouble letting Jesus have full run of the house, now you’re telling me I have to give Him plenty of room to do so.
And here I was hoping the guest room would suffice.
Now I have a question for all of us who make the claim that Jesus is the Lord of our life. Is the Message and presence of Christ living and dwelling in you as an owner occupies a house, or does is just come and visit on weekends at your convenience?