John 5:38 “…nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.”
This is a fascinating, and deeply meaningful, statement on the part of Jesus. He was talking to the scribes and Pharisees who, as He says in the next verse, diligently studied the Scriptures. However, those very Scriptures that they knew so well, memorizing huge chunks of them, didn’t dwell in them because they refused to believe in Jesus. This brings to mind not only Jesus’ remarks along this line in the Upper Room Discourse but also Paul’s famous admonition to the Colossians: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16) However, this applies in the other direction as well. As Paul famously wrote to the Romans, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) For God’s Word to dwell in us we have to accept it as exactly that, the Word of God to us, but for that to happen, we have to hear it in the first place. In countries like the US, people are exposed to the Bible in various ways, but it doesn’t dwell in them until they receive it in faith that it is God speaking to them personally.
This is extremely applicable to me because I grew up immersed in the Bible, and read it through (RSV) by the time I was 10. It wasn’t that I disbelieved any of it, but I obviously had problems with whether it was speaking to me personally. I had plenty of excuses for ignoring it! It was in 1972 that God broke through my foolish facade and I repented indeed, and since then, the Word has truly been dwelling in me more and more. This whole issue certainly brings to mind one of the potential candidates for the US Supreme Court vacancy, because when she was being confirmed for a lower court position last year, one of the senators grilling her said, “The dogma lives in you loudly,” referencing her strong Christian faith. The senator meant it as a negative, but to me it was the highest of compliments. By using “dogma,” it is clear that the senator was referring to organized religion, in this case Catholicism, but the judge’s lifestyle makes it clear that it’s far more than that with her. I pray that God’s Word would be loud indeed within me, speaking to everyone I encounter, whether I open my mouth or not.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I pray that Your Word would indeed dwell in me more and more, accomplishing everything for which You send it, (Isaiah 55:11) for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!