I think the White House is an amazing building. While I’ve never had the pleasure of touring there, I’d like to some day. I’ve often wondered what it’s like inside. As in … is it a house, or is it a government building? (for the record, I know it’s both … but work with me here … LOL)
This is an important question. Because in one context, a house, one resides in it. In another context, a government building, one presides in it. It’s a completely different existence. The same is true of us in the context of Jesus. Back to that in a moment.
My reading from John 9 to John 11 this week got me thinking … first, the passage (John 9:1-3):
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.
Like us, those that spent time with Jesus often misunderstood His actions and the purposes for them. Mostly it was, and is, because Jesus always had a larger, longer-term reason for what He did. But I think there’s also a chasm that stems from his disciples and followers (and hence, us) having a misaligned perspective on their relationship with Jesus. To me, it begs the question of how they related to Jesus, and that question is worth us chewing on for a bit. Which harkens me back to the White House question.
If the White House is merely a place where someone resides, it contains the necessary provisions of a house, like shelter, comfort, protection, etc. Those are key elements, to be sure, but key only in minute and individualistic ways. There’s a benefit to those residing there, but not much beyond that, even if it’s a really, really nice house, like the White House is. Also, the characteristics of that house are likely to be more form than function, because a house is just a house, and the layout, the physical attributes, the technologies, and so on, are unique to it, and benefit it alone. The decisions made within are helpful to the inhabitants, focused on the inhabitants alone. The scope of what happens is small.
If instead the White House is a place where someone presides (in my opinion this is highly questionable over the past six years, but back to my message), then there are the provisions of a house contained therein, but there are far greater and more important characteristics. There’s a reason for those characteristics to exist, and the function of the form is of enormous consequence and benefit, arguably to the whole world. Beyond that, the actions that go on within it have purpose, meaning, impact and implication often past obvious understanding. The decisions made within must be intended to the benefit of the greater whole, despite what might initially appear obvious on the face. The scope of what happens is often beyond measure.
What in the world is the point?
Our relationship with Jesus is like the question of the White House. Does Jesus just reside in the house of our heart, or does He preside there?
If He just resides within us, we have the necessary relationship for salvation. This is not to be minimized … needless to say, I pray all of us have this (if you don’t or don’t know if you do, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk!), and Jesus came to allow us this type of connection with us. But there are aspects of a greater relationship we might miss if only this is the level of association we seek with Him. I would argue that the gap between His residing and His presiding is what can lead to us missing the long-term, bigger-picture purpose in our lives, in us choosing the temporal matters versus the eternal matters to which Jesus can tend for us, and in our missing the fullness of JOY that He wants to give us. It portends us missing the ability to see the big impacts in the little things in life, the grander blessings in the rather diminutive or temporary (or perhaps not so diminutive or temporary) challenges.
On the other hand, if He presides within us, then He has full reign and primary dominion to guide all the situations of our life. He can reveal His plan and blessing as He sees fit, and we have the freedom to let Him do so. We also have the freedom of peace, hope and safety in allowing Him to do as He sees fit even without revealing His plan to us. When He presides in us we know that His plan will have purpose, meaning, impact and implication beyond us, beyond the obvious, and ultimately to the greatest good for the world and the greatest glory to God.
So how? How do we ensure He presides in us?
For Him to preside, He must first reside. So if you haven’t invited Him in to reside, please, please, please do!
Once He resides, then for Him to preside we need to surrender our governance over ourselves to Him. When a president enters the White House, it’s after taking an oath, committing to lead, and with the will of the people being turned over to Him. That turning over entails a surrender of authority and an acknowledgement that the president makes decisions on our behalf on the basis of a greater knowledge of the full picture. Same thing with Jesus … and for us it starts with our turning over our will, surrendering whatever authority we think we have, and acknowledging that Jesus has control and dominion over all things because He knows all things … He knows the end from the beginning and He knows each and every heart and life, including how they intertwine.
There’s a difference between Him only residing, and Him fully presiding. We hold the key to which of the two defines the building of our heart.
Preside, Lord Jesus!