The joy and celebration of Christmas is that God took on humanity and dwelt among us. Immanuel, of course, means “God with us”–as everyone familiar with the Christmas narrative in Matthew’s gospel knows. Yet, so often, it seems we let this essential mystery of our faith evaporate as soon as Christmas and Epiphany pass, the decorations are put away for another year, and we resume our post-New Year routines.
Usually, this translates into lives characterized not by walking in faith in Christ’s presence with us but by an unending series of questions addressed to him.
- God, why did you allow ____ or ____ to happen?
- God, what should I do about ____?
- God, how will you handle ____?
God does not typically answer those questions. Just ask Job. God does not usually reveal his plans to us with crystal clarity. Ask the apostles about that. As Oswald Chambers points out, “God does not tell you what He it’s going to do—He reveals to you who He is.”
To be even more succinct, God is not in the business of answering our questions. He is in the business of coming to us, dwelling with us, and giving himself to us.
He is not our instructor who promises to answer our questions that we might gain knowledge.
He is Immanuel, who has promised never to leave or forsake us, that we might gain him.
This is most certainly true and most certainly better.