Encounter: Take some quiet time apart from the noise of your day and read through John 14:1-7 underlining words or phrases that seem to make an impression. Listen to the audio version a second time through. As you read it through the last time, ask God if there is an invitation or how he might be speaking to you about something that you are troubled about in your life. Identify the fear and how you are responding to that fear.
I remember my grandmother saying, you could tell something about a person by the curtains in their windows. If they were neatly hung, attractive and were a compliment to the rest of the home then all was well and in order in that family. On the other hand if the curtains were dirty, disheveled and mismatched most likely all was not going well. Something most likely was awry. I’m not sure why this has stuck in my mind all these years except that as I think about a few of my own experiences there may be a bit of truth in what she shared.
I do know that as I drive along my daily commute or travel across the country and look into the windows of the houses I pass, I look at the curtains and it makes me wonder what is going on behind the disorder. Do they need help? Is someone being hurt? Do they need help hanging new curtains? Did something bad happen? Would it be weird to stop and ask? Yes, Tammy, and so I talk to Jesus about it and ask His blessing on whoever lives there.
In reality, curtains are not the only indicator of problems of the soul. Scriptures tell us that most of our soul problems, skewed perspectives and reactions in our relationships are driven by fear and God’s answer to that fear is to help us move into his house of love.
Brian writes in his book, When Everything is on Fire:
Through a spiritual life-a grace empowered life that transcends the world as it is, we gradually change our residence from the cruel house of fear to the peaceable house of love. It doesn’t happen all at once and it's not as simple as walking an aisle or praying a sinner’s prayer. It takes more than just making up your mind to be more loving. It's not easy, but it is possible. To move from the house of fear to the house of love is the purpose of spiritual formation and the goal of contemplative prayer. The reason we seek to be properly formed through spiritual practices is so we can eventually take up permanent residence in the house of love When everything is on fire, our refuge is the house of love-a house that is impermeable to the flames of fear, hatred, and violence. This doesn’t mean that we are not affected by the fires raging in our society like everyone else but it does mean that it's possible for our inner self to remain untouched by the flames of hell…For those who have learned how to live in the house of love, there is inner peace.
Fear can be like old, dirty curtains that keep the light of God from filtering in and bringing freedom to love and live like Jesus. Behind the curtains in the house of fear people can become cruel staying chained to the left and right leanings, and thinking the answer is meeting hate with hate, violence with violence, all the while trusting “their fear is warranted, our hate is righteous, and our violence is justified.” And without knowing it, fear becomes the source of many of the sicknesses of our soul and bring out the worst in us.
This Sunday as we come to the final chapter of the deconstruction series, we will see that God’s solution is and has always been to move us down the road into a new house. A house that answers all of our yearnings in finding home.
We hear the words of the Master of the house invite us in,
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. (Jn14:1-3)
Jesus has prepared the place, the house in your soul. He and the father have made their home there (John 14:23), and you no longer have to stay in the house of fear. The answer is Jesus. For love casts out all fear (1 Jn 4:18) and nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Now is the time to open your curtains and let the light of His love in.
In God's House of Love,
Reflect: Is there a place in your life where you are living out of the house of fear rather than the house of love. What would it take for you to abandon the house of fear and move to the house of love? How has fear caused you to react in your relationships at times? What would Jesus say about that? How are your curtains?
Encourage: Brian tells us how God moves us in the house of love through spiritual practices in our spiritual formation journey. We are providing the pathways that prepare your soul for this transition. Contact Pastor Tammy or Pastor Matt for your first session of EPIC. We are here to encourage your move!
Gather: Jesuit mystic Theihard DeChardin was fond of reminding us, "We are spiritual beings having a human experience, not human beings having a spiritual experience." "Do you have a sense that your life includes and is more than your life on earth?" What is the fear? Where do you hear God’s invitation to move from the house of fear to the house of love? Discuss this in your small group.