The Christian faith is alive only when it is listening, morphing, innovating, letting go of whatever has gotten in the way of Jesus and embracing whatever will help us be more and more the people God wants us to be.”
Our understanding of God has de-evolved over the centuries as we moved away from Him. The Bible is a historical record of God dealing with humankind in ways they could handle and understand. The pinnacle of our understanding God was in the birth and life of Jesus on this earth.
The Name Emmanuel
In the year 734 BCE king Ahaz of Judah, the southern kingdom of the Hebrews was pitted against Northern Israel and Syria. Israel and Syria wanted Judah to join them in their revolt against Assyria but Judah was not interested. King Ahaz was worried however, that they would be crushed by this opposition.
The prophet Isaiah delivered a word from God urging him to stay out of this revolt saying that the Israel and Syria will not succeed against him. The sign Isaiah gave him was that a young woman would become pregnant and name the child Emmanuel which means “God with us.”
The Bible is progressive. If you don’t read it this way you will completely miss the point of the story. You will quote God’s words given to an ancient tribe, brought out of slavery and apply it to people today. You will have a hard time explaining weird passages in Leviticus & glaring contradictions in things God said to them with what Jesus said thousands of years later.
People that read the Bible and apply it in a general, broad stroke fashion will conveniently leave out parts or construct ways to explain biblical problems. Dispensationalism is used in this way.
As humankind moved away from God, their ideas of Him became shaded and increasingly human. And because of this God had to re-reveal Himself in bite-sized chunks—in ways they could understand.
We learn in context of what we already understand. You can’t teach someone algebra until they first know how to add and subtract.
Ancient people thought of gods as being up there. They were an agricultural society. The sun provided energy for crops to grow; the rain was necessary for their survival. Both of these came from the sky so naturally the gods lived up there.
Therefore it was obvious that this new God, Jehovah, must also live up there. The ancient people would offer sacrifices by burning important things like food or animals. The smoke would rise in the sky going up to where God was.
As the years progressed, God moved down to earth and would dwell in a special tent and special people called priests would oversee the religious tasks.
A Major Jump
Then a new thing happened. God moved from up there, from over there, to a new location. An angel came and told Joseph that his fiancé, Mary was pregnant with God’s Son and His name would be Emmanuel which means ‘God With Us.’
If we read between the lines we see that ‘With Us’ meant much more than a geographical location. It was God coming down to our level, experiencing pain, problems and all things that are part of the human condition. He was not only with us but He was for us.
If God is all about progression and pulling us forward, then are there areas we can move ahead? Are there ideas we have right now that need to morph and change? Can we look around at everything going on in this world and be content? Do we, as followers of Jesus, look like Him to the people watching?
Are we a mouthpiece for the underdog? Are we holding our hands wide open to all people? Are we blinded by the need to be right? Do we emphasize the rules & truth over people? This is the difference seen between Jesus and the religious elite.
The World Watches
We are being watched. We make claims about God but do we reveal Him with our stances & actions? Is Christianity stuck, or is it moving ahead? Christians have at times led major shifts in society for the betterment of humanity. But there is more that we can do.
2016 can be a year of major strides in bringing God’s kingdom to the people of the world!
Peace and wholeness on your journey!