‘so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.’ Ephesians 3.17
This phrase offers so much promise but also sums up what can be a real tension for many of us: why is it that when we particularly need to experience the presence of Jesus it can feel so hard?
Paul speaks about one of the great promises of our faith - the indwelling presence of Jesus. The promise is that the one we worship will not only be with us at all times, but will actually dwell within us. So many people have been sustained in difficult times in their life by the knowledge that Jesus is with them, whatever they are going through.
However, a difficulty can arise when we would really love to experience Jesus’ presence but seem to feel so little. It is then easy for us to feel guilty: are we the only Christians who seem to feel so little, particularly when other people seem to boast of 'feeling' Jesus so close to them?
At this point, Paul’s words are so encouraging. He speaks about Christ dwelling in our hearts ‘through faith’. In other words, it is not about what we feel but about making a choice to believe that Jesus is present. It is a biblical truth that Jesus is dwelling within us, but we may have to hold onto it by faith rather than by feeling his presence within us.
Whatever you may be facing in the day ahead, know that Christ is within you. You may have to choose to believe that you are never alone, but that doesn't make it any less real. Christ really is within you.
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The Revd John Ryeland, Director of The Christian Healing Mission