It’s the Christmas season once again. Most of us are schedule-deep in celebrations, focused on the birth of Jesus Christ, the arrival of the Savior of the world. Carols remind us of the real reason for our festivities. Although wonderful, it’s not the long-awaited get togethers with loved ones or the chance to receive (and give, of course) the best presents ever or to prepare special recipes that only come out once a year. At the center of our well-loved traditions is the arrival Jesus. He is truly the greatest gift to mankind.
This Advent season I have been deliberate about slowing down to marvel at this miracle. God has displayed his glorious unchangeable nature, packaged in the fragile features of the newborn Babe.
At the risk of losing you with theological terms, allow me to unpack two words that at first glance seem paradoxical, and yet beautifully capture the essence of the Christmas message.
Transcendent. God is transcendent. He exists above and independent from anyone or anything else, outside of space and time. The Lord God Almighty created all things in heaven and on earth, yet He exists above and independent from them. Hebrews 1:3 says that He “sustains all things by His powerful word.” The entire universe exists in Him and for Him that He may receive glory, honor, and praise. This self-sustaining, independent God, however, is not like the ancient gods of mythology or the deities of other belief systems. These gods are self-absorbed and subject their subordinates to cruel, capricious circumstances. They are stark, uninvolved observers of their creation. No, our God is Love and desires relationship with his people. He does not need us, but He wants us.
This brings me to the next word.
Immanent. God is immanent. He exists and operates within the universe he created. He is at hand and actively involved in the minute details of our lives. He walked with the original man and woman in the Garden in the cool of the day. When sweet fellowship was broken by their disobedience, God revealed that He had a plan to restore what was lost. The Savior would come. He would be called “Emmanuel–God with us.” The transcendent God would marvelously dwell among us and be with us. And not just for a short time. All those who believe in Him and confess His name are His dearly loved children, and will be with Him forever!
This Emmanuel arrived Christmas Day with the purpose of redeeming us back to Himself. This All-Powerful, independent God revealed himself as the intensely personal God of Love. The great “I AM” came to be with you.
Transcendent. Immanent. Take time to unpack these word for yourself this Christmas. What does it mean to you that the Creator of the universe came to this earth to make a way for you to be in relationship with him? How would comprehending this truth make a difference in your life? Merry Christmas!