The Point of It All

God wanted to be with His people, but they remained at a distance (Exodus 20:18-21). So God had the people create the tabernacle and the Levitical system so He could safely be present with them and they with Him. This became a permanent arrangement with the building of the Temple. The Temple became the place where heaven and earth overlapped, the center of the Venn diagram between two worlds.

When the old Temple and the old covenant was destroyed, God established a new covenant and a new Temple, Jesus himself. Jesus was the Word of God that had come to “tabernacle” among us (John 1:14). Jesus told the people that if “this Temple” was destroyed, he would raise it again in three days (John 2:19). And He did.

Though Jesus was “God with us,” He didn’t stop there. He didn’t just become a new Temple, a new place where heaven and earth overlapped. God’s next move was extraordinary! After ascending to heaven, Jesus sent His Spirit and made us the new Temple (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19). When we surrender our life to Jesus, the Spirit comes to dwell inside us and we become the new center of the Venn diagram between two worlds. We are where heaven and earth overlap! You, follower of Jesus, are where the Kingdom of God breaks into this world!

And this brings fulfillment to humanity’s original purpose. The reason God commanded that no graven images be made (Exodus 20:4) was because He had already made humanity “in His own image” (Genesis 1:27). So we were perfectly designed to be Temples of the Living God. We just needed cleansed and made new, which Jesus did on the cross and in His resurrection. And all of this simply because God wanted to be with us, His people.

And He’s still not done. At the end of Revelation, we read about the conclusion of all of history. Here’s how the story ends, “God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God”(Revelation 21:3). This was the point of it all!

With You Always

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Matthew 28:20

These are Jesus’s final words in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus tells His disciples (and us) that He is with us…always. He is ever-present. He knows us and likes to be with us. He likes to be near to us. His very Spirit dwells within us. He is closer to us than our own skin.

This truth should impact us in a few different ways. It should:

  1. Prompt holiness: There is no such thing as a secret sin. We walk exposed daily before the throne of grace, every heavenly being, and Jesus Himself. There is no hiding. Whatever sin we engage in is fully revealed and exposed.
  2. Destroy shame: It’s important that we not only know that our sin is daily exposed but that Jesus sees it all and still wants to be near to us. Our sin is not bigger than His grace and love. We don’t have to feel shame. We can receive daily the grace and forgiveness we need.
  3. Uproot loneliness: As a follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is always with you. This means that the Father and the Son are also always with you according to John 14:10, 20, & 26. You are never alone. You also have at least one angel by your side at all times (Matthew 18:10). In other words, loneliness is a lie.
  4. Foster intimacy: Knowing that Jesus will always be with us should lead us to engage with Him daily. We need to spend time with this One who never leaves us. If He’s always present, we need to pay attention to Him, talk with Him, listen to Him and develop intimacy and friendship with Him.
  5. Repel lies: Jesus called Himself “the Truth”(John 14:6). He called the Holy Spirit the “Spirit of Truth”(John 14:17). With such wisdom and knowledge of truth in such close proximity, we should never have to waste our time believing lies. We need only to check in with the Truth and see if what is being whispered in our mind is really true or just a deception of the enemy.

If you are a follower of Jesus, He is with you…always.

How does the knowledge of this reality impact your daily life?

God With Us

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[Isaiah 7:14] (which means “God with us”).

Matthew 1:22-23

Jesus is “God with us.” He is the majestic, transcendent God who has come near. So many people relate to Jesus as if He is God against us or God condemning us or God disappointed in us. But Jesus is none of those things. Jesus said of Himself, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him“(John 3:17).

The Christian faith uniquely captures both sides of God’s nature–His transcendence and His immanence. The apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians about Jesus and said, “The Son is the image of the invisible God…For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him“(Colossians 1:15, 19).

There was a time in history where most people focused on God’s transcendence, how He is completely “other” than us and full of unapproachable power, majesty and light. This is an important aspect of the nature of God, but if that is the only focus, people easily slip into deism–the belief that God is distant and disconnected from His creation.

Deism says that God created everything, put it motion like a machine, and now it runs on Newtonian laws of nature without God’s involvement or interaction. This view of God is heavily influenced by the Enlightenment age. Much of liberal protestant theology is still heavily influenced by this kind of erroneous thinking.

In reaction against this, people began to focus more on God’s immanence–His nearness to and involvement in His own creation. And while this is a very important aspect of God to understand, especially with the Holy Spirit, it has recently become over-emphasized.

With the rejection of Christianity and the introduction of eastern mysticism (Hindu and Buddhist thought), the rise of New Age spiritualism has begun to infiltrate western culture. Terms that celebrate pantheism are being woven into the English vernacular: chakra, the Universe, energies, spirit guide, etc.

Though most of these concepts come from the Occult and eastern religions–and are therefore heavily demonic–western culture, including many people raised in the church, has embraced it because of its emphasis on the experience of the nearness (the immanence) of the spirit realm. Protestant fear of the charismatic experiences of the Holy Spirit–a fear which led to an overly-rationalistic and hyper-cognitive faith–has left an experiential void that is being filled by New Age religion.

We need to hold both truths about God’s nature together in tension so that we don’t slip into these sorts of false beliefs. God is transcendent and other. He is a holy, majestic, and all-powerful personal God who relates to us as Father. God is also immanent. He first drew near to His people with theophanies (visible manifestations of His Presence) in the Old Testament; then He became “God with us” in the person of Jesus Christ, and finally dwells in us and among us in the person of the Holy Spirit.

God is not distant, and God is not “everything.” God is not “the Universe.” God is not creation. God is the Creator of creation. He is separate from His creation but loves to come and dwell within His creation. God is not an abstract “life-force” found in things. God is personal. He is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And if He is found within a person, it is as the Holy Spirit dwelling in the new Temple of God through faith in Jesus Christ–the crucified and risen Savior of the world.