Some readers, looking at the title of this musing, will immediately know where these words are to be found. John’s Gospel chapter one is the place, and what a chapter that is. The particular phrase “where do you live” has always gripped me and I hope that you might be drawn a little more to the Lord’s bosom as you read this meditation. John the Baptist had his followers, and two of them, when they heard him making public announcements about Jesus, left their Rabbi and went after the One he had declared to be “The Lamb of God” (John 1:29,36). It was just a late afternoon encounter and their hearts were captured forever; two young men, both fishermen, probably in their twenties, one we know to be Andrew and the other John who always designated himself, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23) went after the Christ from that moment.
John the Baptist was a man who had the fire of God in his soul. There had not been any such public prophet for many centuries though this did not imply that the longing for God and His Messiah had been extinguished in the heart of the Jewish nation for there had always been a remnant who loved God and believed His promises concerning a Savior Deliver to come. We know that recent generations had thrown up would be messiah’s, visionaries that were self-deceived though sometimes sincere, they inspired a following for a while and then sank away into oblivity leaving behind a trail of the disappointed. But John the baptizer was different, and although he did no miracle, his word was with power and many went out to be baptized by him in the River Jordan, repenting and confessing their sins (Matthew 3:1-6). Doubtless his history was known, a solitary man, dressed in the style reminiscent of the Old Testament prophet Elijah. He too was a man of the desert who suddenly appeared with words from God that challenged the nation to its core and produced a revival, “Come near to me,” he said, and “all the people came near unto him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down” (1 Kings 18:30). John the Baptist was in the same mould and “came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,” and, “Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan and were baptized of him in Jordan confessing their sins” (Matthew 3:1-6). His clothes were of camel’s hair, and he wore a leather girdle around his waist and his diet comprised locusts and wild honey.
[superquote] And He asks us that question, what is it that we are seeking?[/superquote]
[superquote] The answer we give to that question is determinative and many a Christian believer has gone into a by-path because they sought something else and not Him. [/superquote]
He was a wilderness man, this is where he lived and learned, preached and baptized. To him the seekers gathered, including Andrew and John and as they lingered around him they heard him affirm that he was not the promised answer to their needs, he was not the Messiah long promised for whose coming they yearned. Rather they must look for another who was near at hand. The Baptist said that he was ‘a voice’ (John 1:23) and certainly not ‘the Word’ (John 1:14). He was the forerunner, pointing to the One Who was to come saying “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” (John 1:29), and again, the next day as he stood, and the two disciples with him Jesus came by and, “Looking upon Jesus as He walked, he said “Behold the Lamb of God,” (John 1:36). This description “the Lamb of God” was steeped in Jewish history and that He should take away the sin of the world and not merely ‘cover’ it was revolutionary. Thus the die was cast and the two disciples left their Rabbi and followed after Jesus, as we also must do. No prophet takes away sin. We are not called to go live in desert wastes and eat locusts and wild honey. All lesser things, no matter how good, must be left, they must decrease and Jesus must increase in our vision and understanding (John 3:30). So the searchers, the two disciples followed Jesus Who turned and saw them leaving the crowd and coming after Him and asked them “What are you seeking?” And He asks us that question, what is it that we are seeking? The answer we give to that question is determinative and many a Christian believer has gone into a by-path because they sought something else and not Him.
The answer these two disciples gave to Jesus amazes; it must have been utterly spontaneous, perhaps rising almost unexpectedly from the deeps of their hearts, though maybe some of us might think it was simply the first thing that came into their minds! I doubt it. There is, in the human heart, such a desire to live in unending peace and joy, to live elsewhere than wretchedness. A desire suppressed by a multitude of mechanisms by so many of us but present nevertheless. “Teacher, where do you live” (John 1:38)? Can it be that they are merely talking houses and geography? Where does the Lamb of God live? Were Andrew and John interested in a small mud-brick house in a narrow village street or should we be thinking about so much more? God’s Lamb, wherever do You dwell? We long to see where You live and abide there. Man was created to live in paradise, not in sin, to dwell in the light of the knowledge of God and not in the darkness of his own opinions. Humankind was fashioned in the image of God and whatever immensity that may mean; it most certainly includes the fact that we are given the faculties, powers and capacities to live in the kingdom (realm) of God. What are the eternal and blessed states, in which the Trinity of Persons the Bible reveals to be God, dwell together? God fashioned man and woman to share the life of the society of God, Father, Son and Spirit. To live in sinfulness, guilt and shame, fear and perpetual sorrow is not the habitat intended for us. Jesus said plainly that He would receive those who believe Him unto Himself that where He is there we would be also (John 14:3).
[superquote]Make no mistake about this; to dwell in and with God through Christ is the life for which we were created. This is our natural habitat, as fish are at home in water and birds in flight in the sky, so, mankind was made to live in God.[/superquote]
Most of us, on reading such a statement tend to put it into the distant future, when Jesus returns again. The idea of dwelling places in heaven, mansions in the sky have captivated the Christian imagination, sometimes with not a little dash of sentimentality. “I’ve got a mansion, just over the hilltop” is a line that comes to mind, sweet, but only an element of the truth. Those notions can rob us of the preciousness of what the Lord Jesus has done. He made a way through His life, death, resurrection and ascension so that we could enter in to the life of fellowship with the Father in which He lives. The Holy Spirit, inspiring John the apostle, tells us that Jesus was “living in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18). Old fashioned language maybe, but profoundly suggestive nevertheless. What a place for a human heart to dwell! Make no mistake about this; to dwell in and with God through Christ is the life for which we were created. This is our natural habitat, as fish are at home in water and birds in flight in the sky, so, mankind was made to live in God. The Word Who was eternally face to face with God became flesh. This is the message; Jesus is the eternal life lived incarnate, God revealed, God touchable. He is man in the totality of His Personality and powers dwelling in the Father and the Father in Him. He is no Elijah, Moses or David. Jesus is greater, He is unique, no one can compare. Those great Old Testament men did not live in the side of the Father, but Jesus did (John 1:18). John, as an older man, reflecting upon what he and the other disciples saw writes, “the life was manifested, and we have seen it,” “we have seen it with our eyes, we looked upon it, and we handled it” (1 John 1:1-3).
Perhaps, for emphasis, we should capitalize ‘the LIFE’ and ‘IT.’ Nearly all of us put eternal life into the future, but we should be entering into it and beginning to live that eternal life here upon earth. “What do you seek,” asks Jesus, “We want to live where You live Lord” should be our reply! Do we want to continue living in uncleanness of heart? We were not made to dwell in states of self-righteousness, human beings with inflated egos strutting through this world fighting and warring with each other. Where do I live, in the realm of my affections, desires, in my thinking and imagination? We as Christians should be searching our hearts about this matter. Many seem to live in a realm of un-forgiveness; the churches are rife with such attitudes. Gossip and criticism often seems to be the habitat in which many hearts dwell. Paul seems stunned when he hears of the Corinthian Christians taking each other to court before unbelievers (1 Corinthians 6:7). I can almost hear him say using the terms I am trying to write, “My dear misguided Corinthian beloved friends, where ever are you living?” Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit are our natural habitat (Romans 14:17). When we dwell there, in lowliness and meekness with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love (Ephesians 4:2) we are becoming truly ‘normal!’ Our inward man will find rest and our physical frame will begin to function much better too.
The experience called the baptism in the Holy Spirit; which only Jesus can accomplish in a human life is in effect that act of God whereby we are baptized into the Spirit of the Life of the Godhead and made partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). We do not thereby become a fourth or fifth member of the Godhead but we both see and begin to enter in to the realm in which God dwells. Have we thought about God’s first question, “Where are you? (Genesis 3:9)?” Where had His Adam man and his wife gone? They were still in the garden, but O the agony of contemplating where they had gone and were now beginning to dwell in heart. They were plunging into the sickening dark realms of disobedience to God with its resulting shame and fear. Thus began the ceaseless litany of the blame game so prevalent in our day dressed up as it is in the language of victim-hood. Bitter self-recrimination had its birth that day for the slide had begun, the descent into the death of divorce from God. Suspicion of Him hardening into unbelief and an aching loneliness developed from that day and it is essential for us to realize that all these states are an aberration, they are not the natural dwelling place for man. What words shall we add to build up even a small part to describe the place where the godless heart makes it’s dwelling? Thank God we need not abide there. He has, in Himself made a way to experience practical salvation and that is intimacy with the Father, the True God and with Jesus Christ (John 17:3). I am aware that as long as we live here on the earth we know only in part; our intimacy with Him has boundaries and limitations caused by the fact that the perfect has not yet come (1 Corinthians 13:12). But, He will come and make all things new (Revelation 21:5) meanwhile, we must remember that Jesus did come and became that blessed point of departure from the dwelling places of sin and the point of entry into life eternal. We could say that Calvary was the portal! “I am the door, by Me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture. I am come that they might have life and have it more abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:9-11). Remind yourself that He gave His life FOR the sheep that He might give His life TO them.
A deepened understanding must come to us all about this vital matter. Ask yourself, “Where am I living?” Am I sitting with Christ in heavenly places in my day-to-day experience (Ephesians 2:6)? What a habitat for humanity! Let me conclude with a little anecdote from this week. It concerns two days ago. We had been told the meeting was to begin at six thirty in the evening and I duly arrived fifteen minutes early only to find that another meeting was in progress in that church. What to do? I could go sit in the car and wait, but, better to go in and as I did so I asked the Lord “what do you intend by this interruption?” A lady was leading the singing, and it was real old songs were being chosen including these words
I’m living, on the mountain underneath the cloudless sky,
I’m drinking at the fountain that never shall run dry.
O Yes, I’m feasting on the manna from a bountiful supply,
For I’m dwelling in Beulah land.
And just in case a reader is not familiar with the word “Beulah” is means ‘married’ and comes from Isaiah 62:4 where the Lord promises, in prophetic language, that His people shall be married to Him. Do you notice the words in that four line refrain, I’m ‘living,’ ‘drinking,’ ‘feasting’ and ‘dwelling!’ That hymn writer knew what he was writing about! “Come and see,” Jesus said to those two disciples and He says the same to us today. May it be true of us today and everyday, “they came and saw where He lived and remained with Him that day” (John 1:39).