Sunday Dec. 15
Scripture: Matthew 1:22-23
It’s not uncommon for me (Wil) to have a conversation that goes something like this:
“Pastor, do you take the Bible literally?”
“I take the literal parts of the Bible literally and the figurative parts of the Bible figuratively.”
“But how can you know which parts are literal and which parts are figurative?”
“I don’t know for sure. But as a Christian, I’ve committed my entire life to trying to figure it out.”
(For what it’s worth, I know a lot of people who claim to be Biblical literalists in every instance until you ask them what they think about Jesus’ command to sell all their possessions and give them to the poor – at which point they decide some passages should be understood in context and not necessarily taken at face value.)
As for me, I admit I don’t know how to interpret every single passage in the Bible. I’ve got some questions about the Bible I doubt will be answered this side of heaven. However, I have bet my life on the Bible being literally true when it tells us “they shall name him Emmanuel, which mean, ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:23).
According to Matthew, from his birth Jesus was God in the flesh. He was not a revelation of God, a symbol of God, or a reminder of God. He WAS God. God WITH us.
It’s easy to feel that God is far removed from our ordinary daily affairs. We often go through our daily tasks more or less numb to God’s presence. Sure, we have the occasional mountain experience where we feel exhilarated and close to the divine. But that’s not how it usually feels at 2pm on Tuesday. So, we live as if we are here on earth and God is heaven. And we hope if we don’t make God mad, maybe someday we’ll get to go to heaven.
Thankfully, Matthew 1:23 teaches us feelings, like looks, can be deceiving. As it turns out, God is just as present with us as God is present in heaven.
We can’t see God as clearly here on earth as we will one day in heaven. But God sees us just as clearly, loves us just as dearly, and is just as close to us here on earth as in heaven.
If you are having trouble seeing God this Christmas, take another look at what the Bible tells us about Christ and then take a look at the places in your life where you see people loving one another as Christ loved us. You may find the God you were looking for has been with you all along.
Prayer: God, you are closer to us than our breath and you know every word before it is on our lips and every thought before it enters our heads. Show me your presence in my daily life and let your presence show through my daily living and loving. Amen.