In Jesus we see our humanity as God intended it to be, for he is the true human. He was continually turned towards God as the one he called Father. He lived in the fullness of who God is with and for him. In this true human who was always with God and for God we see what we were made for. But right at the start of our history we rejected God’s purpose for us. And we continually rejected his purpose all through our history. We have turned from God and from our true humanity. We have lost our way.
Immanuel is God stepping into our history to find us. And being found we find God in him. Finding God we find our true selves. For Immanuel is our true self in God. In him we are now with God. We are as with God as we ever can be for now our lives are hidden with Christ in God. As those who belong to Immanuel, we are now living within the communal love we were created for.
We can never boast in ourselves as we share in this true human life with God because we have found it only in Immanuel. And we find it in him only because he has found us. In Immanuel God is with us. And in him we are with God just as God intended.
Before the world was made, God decided to be with us in communion and that is why he created. He did not create and then say, “I think I would like to have these humans in communion”. No! God is communion. He created us with the purpose of including within his own communal life those who are not God. And that is the purpose he pursued in time bringing it all to fulfilment in Immanuel, God with us.
Immanuel is the one man in whom the many will find communion with the Father in the Spirit. Not because God owes it to us. Not in virtue of any quality or capacity we have in ourselves. We are completely without claim or ability for this. It is all actual in Immanuel and in him alone apart from anything in us.
We turned away from God missing our destiny, treading underfoot our dignity, losing the gift of fellowship with him. Nevertheless, God himself intervened as man. Not just for man but as man. He is with us as one of us to bring us back to all God intends for us – His eternal purpose of union and communion in Christ by the Spirit.
God does not ignore what we have done to ruin ourselves. Nor does he simply hide from sight our tragedy. He gives himself to us in Immanuel to close the gulf for which we are responsible. “God with us” means more than God along side us helping us to do what God intends for us. It rather means God himself, at his own cost, and also on his own initiative, fulfilling his own eternal purpose for us.
Christ is our very life and in union with him we now share in his life with God. As Paul says, “Our lives are now hidden with Christ in God”. We are distinct from God, but we were never intended to be separate from Him. We are made to live in him as he lives in us.
Left to ourselves we do not have what we were made for. We do not share in the communal life in which we are meant to find our true happiness. We don’t even look for it. We are so very lost. The very meaning of our existence is gone. This is the human tragedy. But we are not left to ourselves. Immanuel is God giving himself to us in order to give us what we most need – inclusion in the life and love of the Triune Communion.
We cannot work our way to this life in God. It can only be given. And God gives it freely in Jesus, his Son. He is Immanuel, God with us so that we might be with him in God. Now the Father says to us, open yourself to this unsurpassable gift. You don’t have to earn your true life in God or jump through hoops to enjoy it. Just focus on Jesus as his Spirit brings to realisation in you this life with Christ in God. Only there do we find our true life hidden with Christ in God.
Even before anything was made, the God who is Love wanted to be with us in loving relationship and we with him. That communal purpose of Father, Son and Spirit finds fulfilment in Immanuel. He is the one that the Triune One set apart to be God with us and we with God in communion.
So Immanuel, “God with us”, is not just any event that may be called an act of God. All that God does moves towards this unique act. Not one act of God along with others, but one for the sake of which he wills and works all other things. For Immanuel, “God with us” is what God decided to be, in his Son, before there was a creation. Yes, God makes communion with humans the goal of his own life.
The Westminster catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man”? The answer, “man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him for ever”. In this post, we are rather asking what is the chief end of God? The answer is, Immanuel, God with us and we with God within the communion of love. The whole purpose of God is about this unique man and us in him. For in His free decision to elect his own Son as Immanuel, God determines humans for Himself having first determined Himself for humans as human.
This “human” God fills me with wonder! Truly, I want to glorify him and enjoy him forever!
Before God even created humanity he only wanted to be God sharing himself with us. And he wanted us to be with him in the deepest union and communion. Indeed, who we are as humans is inseparable from who we are with him.
That eternal purpose became actual in Immanuel. He is God with us sharing our humanity so that in him we might be with God sharing all the Son has with his Father in the Spirit. As Paul says our life is now hidden with Christ in God. The Father’s unique Son has united himself to us in our humanity so that we might be united with him in the Spirit. And in that living union we are now with God.
You might react saying all that is just an ideal. The reality is I live far from God and God seems far from me. Nevertheless, the reality is Christ as God with us and we with God. True, our daily lives often contradict this reality. Even so, the reality is God has united himself with us in our humanity so that God really is with us. And the Spirit of Christ has united us to Christ so that we are with God in him. Furthermore, the indwelling Christ is now expressing his own life with God in and through us. No matter how much our lives contradict the reality we know that God is with us and we are with God. Let’s live in that reality in union with Christ by his Spirit so that the reality may come to daily realisation in us.