The promise of Emmanuel, God with us, is not only a Christmas story, it is our life and hope. Incarnation was and is about God presenting himself in our context to be with us and reveal himself to us. Christ in you is your opportunity to “be Jesus” in a world that needs him. Jesus is a friend to sinners and wants to be with them. The way he does that is through you. That is how the great and indescribable God reveals himself, through you!
Emmanuel, God With Us… Being Jesus in a Needy World
“And His name shall be called Emmanuel…”
In one way Christianity is a religion, but in another way, battling religious thinking seemed to be Jesus’ biggest problem. I’ve never thought of my relationship with God as religion, I’ve always thought of it as a relationship.
Religion seems to surface as adherence to rules and regulations because of the requirements of the law. Religion comes across as transactional, God will do certain things if we do certain things and we will do certain things if God does certain things.
Relationships are transformational. If I have a relationship with God then I understand God loves me and desires to see my life transformed into his image of what it should be, and his vision is the best possible outcome for my life. My response is relational, out of a heart of love I serve God knowing that the more I know him the more I will love him and the more motivated I will be to move toward his plan and vision for my life.
[shareable]The great and indescribable God reveals himself through Christ in us. [/shareable]
The celebration of Christmas is a lot of things to a lot of people; it is a lot of things to me. But the story in the gospels, foretold by the prophets and recorded in scripture, is about a coming Messiah, a Savior who would deliver his people from oppression.
“And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”” (Luke 2:9-14 ESV)
It is an incredible story of God taking on the form of humanity and actually living among us. It is the incarnation. God with us.
Religion, in some minds, is about a God in a far off place pontificating and doling out justice according to his law. Relationship is about creator God humbling himself (Philippians 2) and taking on the form of a servant because it is the only way we could know him.
The gospels and the rest of the New Testament are the story of how Jesus came to be with us and how, through His Holy Spirit, he lives in us. This is the story. This is Christianity. It cannot be anything else. It cannot be defined in any right way that eliminates the Spirit of Christ actually living in us, constantly and forever with us.
God with us. The name “Emmanuel” means God with us.
When we walk through the hard places in life God is with us.
When we walk through indescribably joys, God is with us.
When we feel alone and unnoticed, God is with us.
When we feel forsaken, God is with us.
When we must choose our paths, God is with us.
When we don’t understand, God is with us.
When we experience healing, God is with us.
When we experience loss and pain, God is with us.
When we rejoice, God is with us.
When we suffer, God is with us.
We once again lost someone very important to us this week. My friend Dan. Once again, we watched a man loved by God face his portal into death with courage and hope because God was with him. Once again, we watch a family face tomorrow with courage because God is with them.
The promise of “God with us” was the single greatest truth that kept me from spiraling into despair and hopelessness. God was and is with me.
“… yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil… because… He… is… with… me…”
I love Christmas. I love the lights, the opportunity to express love to each other, and the excitement of the season. I think it is absolutely cool to be in an airport and to hear songs playing that talk about the story of God coming to earth for the redemption of our souls. The thing I love most, and the core of the celebration to us is… Incarnation. God decided to be with us. I am not afraid when he is with me.
Calibration Tools… Calibrating your life and lifting those you love and lead
When you gather with whoever you gather with on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, or even if you are alone, acknowledge Emmanuel… God with us! Give thanks and anchor in the awareness of the possibilities of living life in the Presence of God. Because when you live in the awareness of the Presence of God, a God-passion will arise, a path will emerge, and an incarnational practice will result.
Incarnation was and is about God presenting himself in our context to be with us and reveal himself to us. Think of incarnation in a different way. Think of Christ in you and your opportunity to “be Jesus” in a world that needs him. Jesus is a friend to sinners and wants to be with them. The way he does that is through you. That is how the great and indescribable God reveals himself, through you!