Thursday, April 3, 2008

Immanuel - "God with us"

Something I read in Brennan Manning's ‘Abba’s Child’ made me think what it really means by ‘God with us’.

Born in Bethlehem

"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us." - Matthew 1:23

That was the words of the prophet Isaiah hundreds of years before the actual event took place. Majority of the Christian community believe Jesus was God in flesh and was born to Mary in Bethlehem, which is right on according to the Bible. But one of the common misunderstanding Christians possess is that God came to be with us just 33 years.

The God of the universe, by whom all things are created, came down from heaven, leaving His glory behind for a while to live as a man among us. He wasn’t just a man who was 'enlightened' while sitting under a tree, but he had been always enlightened before He even appeared to us. He wasn’t someone who became 'divine' at age of thirty, but He was always divine. He wasn’t just a prophet but the originator of all prophecies. He wasn’t just a Jewish Rabbi, but He was the cause for a Jewish generation in the first place. He wasn’t like the Old Testament High Priests, but much better High priest who entered the real Holy of Holies forever. He was God, I mean that baby in that manger was God. He is the God whose glory was hidden behind the curtain and now revealed unto us, ultimately He Himself tearing the curtain from top to bottom, removing any barriers or the need of mediators to approach Him.

Why did He come?

Sure, He came to die. But is that it? No, to rise from the dead. Sure, But is that it? No, to ascend to heaven to be at the right hand of God. Sure, but is that it? No, Here is the thing: He came to die, to be buried, to be raised, to be ascended to heaven AND to come back in the person of Holy Spirit to dwell in those who believe forever! Sadly, many miss the significance of the last part of His ministry - permanently dwelling in believers. That entire doings of Him from death to the indwelling is what makes godliness possible among us. Nothing less could have done it.

Jesus came back in the person of Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost

The day of Pentecost has to have a lot more significance than Christmas. On Christmas, Jesus came to live here for some years and go back; but on the day of Pentecost He came to live in us forever. Just prior to His ascension to heaven after the resurrection, He told His Disciples that it is good that He is going away, so that He can send Holy Spirit. In other words, He can come back in a mightier way to indwell in the multitudes forever. That is what happened on the day of Pentecost. It's interesting He called that person ‘comforter’. A comforter is one who comforts, not the one who put burden upon people. He came so that we can be comfortable (peaceful, restful).

Christ in us – the hope of glory

That’s the ultimatum of His ministry on this earth. Nothing less. His death was a prerequisite for His life to be given to us. Many believe ‘Christ in us’ is a positional truth or just a theological truth. Was His death positional? Was His resurrection positional? If those were real, this is also real. Our body is His temple and He lives in us. Literally. The life we live is His. In Him we have our being. We could still act stupid by asking Him to ‘come down from heaven’, ‘come closer to us’ etc. Hello? He is IN us! How can He come ‘closer’ than that?

Why would He dwell in us?

We all want to ‘feel’ spiritual. We like ‘feel good spirituality’, so we sing and dance to convince us we can still ‘feel’ His presence. There is nothing wrong in singing and dancing, but don’t mistake it for the true spirituality. True spirituality is far beyond our emotional experiences. There will be times in our life where we lose the sense of all our 'experiences' and feel blank, in such moments we need the truth to sustain us. And what is the truth? The truth is that the life of Christ Jesus is in us and He will never leave us nor forsake us. True spirituality is the realization and assurance of Christ’s life in us forever, which enables us to have a quiet confidence to rest in our soul. It is quite the opposite of the ‘bumper sticker spirituality' where everything seems to be about external but deep inside they are dead as a hammer. If Jesus meant to establish a show biz Christianity He could have done it by sitting in heaven by giving some instructions to follow. He didn’t have to come and dwell in us. Isn’t it quite obvious that He did it for a reason? Isn’t that a good reason to believe that He is truly interested in a relationship with us? The cry of our soul in hollowness and emptiness is answered in Jesus and in His life in us. It is in Him we stop wandering. It is in Him our deep need for love is fulfilled. He is faithful to lead us into rich pastures. I love this Savior! He didn't just save me from hell but gave me a life to live right here, right now. He made my heart lovable and it is my desire to spend the rest of my life enjoying the riches I have in Him.

1 comment:

Joel Brueseke said...

God with us... forever! I don't have time to comment on all this right now but I'll pick two of my favorite highlights. One, "The day of Pentecost has to have more significance than Christmas." Christ coming to dwell in us in the form of the Holy Spirit is indeed far more significant than we (the church) pay attention to. A whole denomination, or movement, has come from this ("Pentecostals"), but I think the main point of the day is sadly missed. They focus on "power" and tongues and the gifts of the Spirit (and I would never want to diminish the importance and validity of all this!), but the fact that God came to dwell permanently in man seems to be given little attention, when I think it's the main thing.

Two, "We could still act stupid by asking Him to ‘come down from heaven’, ‘come closer to us’ etc. Hello? He is IN us! How can He come ‘closer’ than that?" I was just thinking about writing a blog post about this just the other day but never got around to it. I had heard a song on the radio that is also sung in churches that says something like, "God of heaven come down, heaven come down." I'm thinking to myself, "God come down from where?" And, "If God is coming down, where is He coming down to?" If God indwells us, why are we asking Him to come down to us? Drives me batty, but yet I know I had the same mindset at one time, so I let it go for the most part. :)