“Make yourself at home.” It’s a nice thing to say to someone when they come over. It’s meant to put them at ease. It’s warm and inviting. I remember being told this a lot when I was asked to house-sit for people. And, as kind as it was. I knew it was only conditional. It was a temporary offer. I was welcome to eat some food from the fridge or lay down on the couch but painting a bedroom or organizing the kitchen cabinets the way I wanted to was never part of the bargain.
When Jesus invites us to abide, to dwell, to make our home, he’s offering more than a conditional bargain. He’s offering us eternity at home in God.
When John writes in his gospel that the “Word was made flesh” he chooses a word the resembles something more like “tented,” “tabernacled,” set up a temporary dwelling. The Word was made flesh and camped out among us. But, when Jesus talks about the relationship he’s offering with his disciples it has a more long-term, if not permanent ring. Make your home with me.
When some of John the Baptizer’s disciples inquire after Jesus they ask, where are you “dwelling”, where are you “abiding.” And Jesus invites them to come and see. And it says that they went, and saw, and made their home with him there.
In John 6, Jesus teaches that those who eat his flesh and drink his blood are making their home with him. He says in John 8 that those who make their home in his Word will truly be his disciples. And here, in the 15th chapter, he says that we will be making our home with him by keeping his commandment to love one another as he has loved us.
The fullness of Jesus’ love is more than a temporary offer of hospitality. It is nothing less than unconditional invitation into the divine life of the Trinity. His arms stretched out on the wood of the cross are wide enough to embrace absolutely all of who we are especially all the faults and foibles that we might prefer to keep private.
The life, the love of Jesus is all encompassing, and therefore, all forgiving, there is space enough to falter and not be cast out. And that is space that we can offer to one another. In order to make ourselves home with Jesus, we will be making room, making space, making home for others as well. This is the kind of life that eternity requires.
As we persist in his word, his sacraments, and his love for one another, there may be times as we make our home in Christ that his Word seems confusing or vexing, time when the sacraments seem far off or offer little consolation, and times when loving one another feels impossible. But Christ’s love is big enough to contain it all and so we can always return and rest and make our home in Jesus.
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