Invitation to Be With…

Today I begin the journey of processing various parts of the book I mentioned yesterday (Invitation to the Jesus Life by Jan Johnson). I thoroughly enjoyed this book earlier this year with my friend, Kathy, and now this book will become the springboard for our next large group women’s bible study at our church. It’s exciting! A little warning: I’m not working through this book chapter by chapter, so if it looks like random splashes, it probably is. Welcome to the World of Jen. (This is really nothing new.)

Today’s focus is really about the concept of God being with us. You might be familiar with the fact that God has chosen to introduce himself to us with lots of unique, descriptive, and precious names that magnify certain parts of his character. One of those is Immanuel. Lots of Christmas carols incorporate this specific name, and it means “God with us” in the truest sense of the word.

Wait a minute. I just said “in the truest sense of the word.” What exactly does that mean? We can be with family and friends and be with perfect strangers. I can be with my husband in a completely other sense. What would it mean to be with my God? Is that different from my God being with me? (Great. Now I can no longer type that word without it looking odd to me. *sigh*)

Matthew 1:23 announces “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.” In the passage in scripture often referred to as The Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20), Jesus says, “And surely I am with you even to the end of the age.” Our Immanuel, our “God with us”, comes into the world an infant. Jesus leaves this world and his parting words promise to “be with”. How’s that for a bit of a twist.

Since a holy, perfect, all-powerful God cannot (and has no need to) contradict himself, let’s think about this. We know an angel of the Lord promised the Immanuel, our “God with us” (Matt. 1:20-23). We know Jesus himself promised to “be with” his followers until the end of the age. But, I think there is so much more to this. Jan Johnson presents some amazing ideas on the concept of really “being with” someone. Let’s ponder it for a while. Just how was Jesus with people?

Isn’t there a difference between being there and really being there? It makes me have flashbacks to teachers taking attendance in class a long time ago.

Teacher: Jennifer?
Jennifer: Here.  (Insert that inevitable student enthusiasm here.)

You catch my drift, right? I don’t picture our “God with us” having some lackadaisical response to us, and when we look at scripture, we find he is absolutely not like that.

Think about this for a while. How has your “God with you” been with you over the years? When did you see him looking you in the eye, straight into your soul? When did he meet you between a rock and a hard place…and move the rock? When did he wipe away your streams of tears…and save them because they were precious to him? When have you felt his loving gaze and attention upon you?



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4 Responses to “Invitation to Be With…”

  1. P* Says:

    Love this, but it’s wayyyyy too short! Heh heh!

  2. P* Says:

    Ha, yes…you should dedicate this anomalous post to Ton’.;)

  3. Michele Says:

    Amazing……totally goes along with that scripture! I so need to sense God “WITH” me through so many things in my life right now! You really gave us something to ponder…..
    Thanks again!!!

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