Have you ever walked in a home at made you ill-at ease? What was it that caused tension? Noise? Smell? Clutter? Confusion?
Imagine with me for a moment two houses side by side. This time our focus isn't so much on what the homes look like, but on what it's inhabitants experience.
Those who live in one home experience tension, confusion, guilt, shame, addiction, pain, a lack of love and peace, violence, and death. There is a range of depths that the inhabitants experience these things. It could be that they experience mild tension and confusion and violence, all the way to a deeply intense tension, confusion, and violence. Ultimately though, they are experienced.
The other home is quite different. The second home is one of order, peace, love, affection, fulfillment, clarity, lightness, completeness, joy, calmness, understanding, freedom, and life. I love gardens, and I imagine that this home has a beautiful indoor greenhouse with a little stream, lots of green things, and most wonderful smells. In this home the inhabitants are free to leave, but have no desire to do so.
I know which home I want to live in!!! There's just no question. Not even a moment's hesitation. Seriously. I was reading in the Bible this morning, in Romans, about slavery. Slavery isn't a physical thing I experience, or have ever experienced. According to things I've read still exists today for millions around the world (and I can hardly bear the thought and fall on my knees every time I hear about it). But it isn't something I've experienced, physically. But that isn't what Paul was referring to. He was referring to a spiritual condition. Paul says that we are slaves, either to sin, or to righteousness. We are slaves to God, or to ourselves, and by default to our mortal enemy (Romans 6-7). When we allow sin to rule in us, to be our slave master, the natural consequences are living in the first home I described. Tension, confusion, guilt, shame, etc. We experience the torment of a slave master with no mercy, no grace. We get beaten down, and are a slave to our own lusts. We can experience this even though we have confessed Christ as Lord. Pause and reflect on a time you've experienced this.
On the other hand, those who's slave master is Christ the Lord experience quite the opposite. I've not known a gentler, kinder, more patient master. who's love knows no end. Those who work and serve in His house are free to leave at any time and experience everything described in the second house, even in the midst of the most trying circumstances. Yet those who truly are His, would never dream of leaving. They experience a life that not many find. Life, love, fulfillment to a depth many only dream of.
Christy Nockels wrote a song and I love the picture it gives:
Jesus tells us through the prophet Jeremiah, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13)
Jesus says, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)
Jesus tells us through Paul, "For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of the Son He loves." (Colossians 1:13)
Kingdom. Gods's Kingdom. His house is a house of great peace, deep joy, and overwhelming love.
The tale of two houses, two kingdoms. Where are you living? In which home are you serving? Which master are you serving?
Here is a beautiful post giving context to some of the Bible's passages about being bond slave.