God is with us

By Deniliquin Pastoral Times

This year, like many before it, there are going to be many excited teenagers who will get their very first smart phone.

And this means a new level of connectedness, anytime, anywhere, to the vastness that is social media — be it Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram or Twitter.

But as good as this connectedness is, there is one thing missing; flesh and blood. That is, there is no substitute for real, face-to-face, interpersonal relationships.

In Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus, Joseph was told in the fulfilment of prophecy, “... they shall call his name Immanuel’’.

Matthew adds a note of explanation — Immanuel means, ‘‘God with us’’ (Matt 1:22-23).

Matthew wants to press home that there is something very special about this baby.

In Jesus’ birth, God entered humanity like never before. He “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

God actually walked among us. He was here with us.

There are several things that could be said about this, but one stands out.

God was not content to be a distant, impersonal, unknowable, detached being.

In Jesus, God was pleased to hang out with people like you and me. He was pleased to build, with humanity itself, a close, meaningful and personal relationship.

In Jesus, we now have the means to know God. Yes, the very God who in awesome power created and sustains the universe that we live in.

Jesus’ birth was just the beginning of this surprising relationship, because ultimately, he dealt with the very thing that prevents us from knowing and befriending God, namely, sin.

Jesus came to take away sin and thus allow humanity to be ‘good with God’.

As corny as it sounds, one of the greatest things we can celebrate at Christmas is not good presents, but God’s presence.

Through faith in Jesus and the forgiveness of our sin, God is no longer a distant and detached entity; he is close. He is near. God is with us.

~ Contributed by Pastor Chris Taylor of Deniliquin Baptist Church, on behalf of the Combined Churches of Deniliquin.