You may question, does God really live inside people?, is God’s Presence as Spirit within and with people really real? Is it a figment of imagination? We have been talking about spiritual life and growth, our source of energy and life, whether or not God has a family, good and bad things happening, Jesus as an example or more, and now whether God really lives inside people.
When I was a child and could not understand something, my mother used to say, “Evelyn, do I have to draw you a picture?” I would say, “Yes!” Recently, I was able to draw a picture of how it is possible for God to indwell, live in, us in spite of our shortcomings.
As I was studying Ephesians 3:14,15 which speaks of God’s family and that all the families of heaven and earth take their name from God, the idea for the “picture” came to me. How did you get your name? Your mother and/or father gave it to you, right? God is Spirit, right? So at the top of my paper I wrote:
Family of God Ephesians 3:14, 15
God = Spirit
Then I drew a picture to represent two stone tablets of God’s Law and put Jesus’ name over one and “Me” over the other one.
I drew a line across the tablet labeled “Me” to indicate that I have broken at least one of the commandments of the Law. And if one is broken, the whole thing is broken, just as a contract would be broken if any of its parts were not completed.
In my illustration I use the term “anointed of the Holy Spirit.” Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Being “anointed with oil” is sometimes associated in Bible scriptures and in tradition with healing of body and mind with spiritual aid through prayer.
Family of God Ephesians 3:14, 15
God = Spirit
│ N F │ │ │
│ O u │ │Broken │
│ L I l │ │ │
│ a N f │ ╞═══=═══╡
│ w T i │ │ │
│ E l │ │ Law │
│ D e │ │ │
│ d │ │ │
(I wish this picture transferred with unbroken lines, except as you see
where the word ANOINTED breaks through the line on Jesus side.)
The Anointing or “Receiving the Holy Spirit of God” is expressed in other terms in various beliefs, such as “baptism of the Holy Spirit,” “being sanctified by the Holy Spirit,” “filled with the Holy Spirit.” or having power or boldness through the Holy Spirit.
After drawing the stone tablets and labeling them (with the broken one being mine), I drew an oval around the word “Jesus” and the unbroken law tablet. I drew another oval around “Me” and the broken law tablet.
You can do this as I explain it, if you wish. The first oval represents Jesus as a real live person in a real time in history who completely pleased God and was anointed by the Spirit. The second oval represents me, a not-so-perfect person, without the anointing, separated from God and Jesus.
Regardless of what we think about Jesus’ physical birth, we can agree with the statement already quoted from John 3:6 and attributed to Jesus, “What is born of flesh is flesh, and what is born of the spirit is spirit.” Jesus is considered firstborn Son of God by being born of the Spirit of God.
But what about ME, the person who feels separated from God? The Apostle Paul called that feeling being “dead in trespasses and sins.”
God, loving and merciful, reaches out to human beings before we reach out to God. “We love because he first loved us” (I John 4:19). “Before you call upon me, I will answer.” (Isaiah 65:24).
Next, look in Ephesians chapters one and two. Notice that it says,
“God is so rich in mercy that, on account of His great love with which He loved us, He made us who were dead in trespasses, alive in unison with Christ–by grace you have been saved.”
“In Christ” we enjoy certain benefits. By faith, Paul says, we can reach out to God, and even the faith can be a gift of God. See Ephesians 2:8-10 where it says:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is ot your own doing, it is the gift of God–not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are is workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
From the Revised Standard Version
You can ask for the gift of faith now if you wish.
God, by love and grace will deliver us, save us, and heal us spiritually, and sometimes also physically. Through what God has done in Jesus Christ, we have “in one Spirit entrance to the Father” and…
“So, you are no longer strangers and immigrants, but you are fellow-citizens of the saints and members of God’s household.”
Ephesians 2:18,19 Modern Language Bible
Thanks be to God.
Now we can go back to our illustration, when God reaches out to us and we respond by faith, we open ourselves to God. We now write FAITH in the box representing ME and open the line at the top to God. Now, we can draw a single circular line beginning with “God = Spirit”, around the left to include Jesus, God’s Son by the Spirit, continue the circle below to the right, below, beneath and including Me/You/Us who also accept the Spirit of God as brothers and sisters in the family of God, then continue the circle upward on the right back to God, and thus complete the “Family Circle.”
Just as we receive our human body and nature from our human parents, we receive the Spirit from God. God has enveloped Jesus with the Spirit by the Anointing, and by faith God also envelopes you and me and all who ask for the Spirit with the same Spirit that Jesus had.
Remember, “Christ” is the Greek word for the Anointing or Anointed One. In an eternal, ever-expandable circle there is room for every one, for all who ask and allow God to enter their lives.
If you followed the illustration with me you now see the following, ready for you to complete the circle:
God’s Family Circle Ephesians 3: 14, 15
God = Spirit
│ N │ │ A │
│ O │ │ I │
│ I │ │ T │
│ N │ ╞═══H═══╡
│ T │ │ │
│ E │ │ │
│ D │ │ │
(Here I have the same problem transferring my lines for illustration, now both
sets are open at the top, one by the anointing of Jesus, and the other by Faith
in what God says and has done through Jesus.)
Will you draw the circle with Yourself inside, asking God for faith?
If we turn to Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians (II Corinthians 5:17), we read, “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation.”
Jesus has kept the Law of God and we have not, yet we become new beings? Yes. When we ask God to forgive us and give us the Spirit, we are enveloped in Christ by the anointing of the Spirit poured out on us. God has provided Godself with a way to be just and merciful at the same time. The Spirit is God’s presence inside us.
“And because you are (God’s) children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying “Father! Father!”
Galatians 4:6 New Revised Standard Version
For some people this involves an unusual sense of God’s presence and they are puzzled by it. Saint Teresa “was quite aware of the possibility that her voices and visions might be tricks of her imagination, but she was even more sure that ‘anyone who has had a true vision from God will detect a false one almost immediately.’ False locutions or visions leave no result. They do not leave the soul light, do not make it quiet, do not move it to tenderness. Above all, the test of the feeling of presence is an increase in love.” (From Ralph Harper’s On Presence, p. 57.)
If you are at the end of your resources, “the end of your rope”, “the bottom of a pit,” you have nothing to lose and lots to gain by entering the Family of God by “being born of God’s Spirit.” Have you answered your question about God’s Presence inside you?