As I shared on Tuesday, my Lenten work this year is to figure out what it really means to be “a temple of the Holy Spirit.” I’ve really let the temple go, so I’m obviously going to be taking care of some deferred maintenance through eating right and getting some exercise. More importantly, I have to pay a lot more attention to my tenant. I want the Holy Spirit to be welcome, at home, and able to do its work. Ever since the first Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the soul of every true follower of Jesus. It immediately begins renovating, throwing out everything that is dirty, sinful, broken and stained and replaces it with new things that are holy, disciplined, and obedient. Of course the Spirit requires help from the landlord. We are responsible for ourselves so there are some changes only we can make. In many ways, though, I’ve been an absentee landlord.
I had an absentee landlord in college. The guy lived in another state and hadn’t laid eyes on the place in years. As long as the rent was paid we never heard from him. The house was affectionately named “The R House” and had been passed down through the Music Department for years as the marching band party house. (My mom didn’t know that when I told her I wanted to move in with a few band friends.) By the time I moved in, the place was a disaster. The windows were cracked and let cold air in. The plaster was falling off the walls in a few places. The toilet rocked back and forth when you sat on it. It leaked through the floor and dripped into the living room. (Some ingenious former tenant had wired a turkey roasting pan to the ceiling to catch the water so you wouldn’t get dripped on when you entered the front door. (We didn’t know that until one night it got so full it tore loose and crashed to the floor splashing everything with toilet drip water on the way down.)
We fixed what we could and called the landlord repeatedly but he never called us back. It was clear, our absentee landlord was a slumlord.
Is that how the Holy Spirit sees me? I’ve let the place go and haven’t stayed in touch? Eating better isn’t going to be enough. Hitting the treadmill isn’t going to be enough either. I have to sit down face to face with Holy Spirit and hash a few things out. The Spirit decides what’s dirty and what’s clean. The Spirit decides what is broken, sinful, and stained. The Spirit decides what gets to stay and what has to go. The Spirit is not a tenant who rents a spare room. I am not a rental house of the Holy Spirit. I am a TEMPLE of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is not a guest in the temple but is enthroned. The Spirit is in charge, not me. Time to turn over a lot more control.
(If you would like some help learning how to follow Jesus, you can purchase the book that inspires this blog: “5×5 Discipleship: A Field Manual for Following Jesus”. It is available now on Amazon.com. Click here.)