Today: God with us
But what about us? What about today? It may be all very well to say that if you lived two millennia ago in Palestine you could have seen Immanuel, God with us, but is God with us? And what might this mean?
In one sense, Immanuel has come and returned to be with the Father. He is physically absent. It is no longer possible to see God in the flesh as it once was. We are waiting for his return. Indeed, this is one way of thinking about what our lives are about: we live preparing for the presence of God. We await not simply the return of the risen Jesus, but the day when everything is set to rights and the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2.14).
This is what we are waiting for – the ultimate and permanent fulfillment of the promise: ‘I will be your God and you will be my people.’ Here’s how the final pages of the Bible envisage it:
And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home [lit. tabernacle] of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new."
- Revelation 21.2-5aOur lives are preparing for this day. We are maturing our taste to enjoy the messianic banquet, we are exercising our heart so it can be inundated with God’s love, we are training our eyes to see the invisible God. You are getting ready to be able to stand in the presence of divine glory, to reflect and shine with that glory. The tastes we get of the life to come now are only a taste, but they are genuine tastes. Whenever you are generous to someone in need, that’s a taste of the future. When you welcome a stranger, when you forgive a deep wound, when you resist a chance to gain at someone else’s expense, when you keep a promise, when you fail but confess and turn your life around, when you bless instead of curse, when you trust despite fear, when you hope despite pain, when you love despite busyness – you are catching a glimpse of the future presence of God.
Ten points for guessing the cathedral in the picture.
Series: I; II; III; IV; V; VI.