The God Who Is Increasingly With Us
Emmanuel means, "God with us." And the God revealed in the Bible is a God who continually and increasingly comes to us and makes his dwelling among us.
In the Garden, God was with Adam and Eve, walking with them in the cool of the day. But God was not always with them, he would come and go. The pattern was set: Our God is a God who comes to us and is “with us.”
In the Exodus wanderings, God guided the Israelites in the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire, and dwelt among them in the Tabernacle. God was with them, but over there, inside that tent, where only Moses could meet with God.
In the Promised Land, God was with the nation of Israel. Where? Over there in Jerusalem in the Holy of Holies inside the Temple. God was always “with us” over there, permanently indwelling the Temple, where the High Priest could enter as the intermediary.
In the person of Jesus of Nazareth, “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.” Jesus was the visible glorious God become flesh, actually living with us. He is the “Emmanuel”—the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel”—which means, ‘God with us.’” (Matt. 1:23). His ministry in the flesh lasted for a time, but then he was killed, resurrected, and then ascended back to the right hand of the Father in the heavenly realms.
But “another counselor” was sent to be with us: The Holy Spirit. He indwells those who experience the birth from above, guiding and empowering those who are called to be the Kingdom Community on earth, bringing about God’s intentions on earth as they are done in heaven. The Spirit’s fruit manifests in the people who will yield to his leading. God is “with us:” in us as individuals and in us as the corporate body of believers. Yet, this relationship is still not yet perfect, for God’s empowerment and leading through the indwelling Spirit is still limited by our personal and corporate struggle against our fallen natures.
The perfection of Emmanuel comes when God creates the New Heaven and New Earth, and God comes to this place where we are and proclaims, “Now the dwelling of God is with people, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21:3). It is at that moment that the fullness of “God With Us” will be experienced for the first time and our hope of living forever immersed in knowing God more and more with each passing moment will be realized.
Next: What it looks like to be the Incarnational Christian Community in today's Age of the Holy Spirit.
technorati: emerging church, spiritual formation, apologetics