Dec 102013 3 Responses

The Bad News of God’s Presence

God is present.

It’s the story of Christmas.

The Bible reveals a God who is not separated from creation, but one who is deeply involved.

This confronts the thinking of many:

The atheist would say there is no God to be involved in our lives.

The agnostic would say we can never know who God is or if he is involved.

The deist would say God set the world in motion and now stands detached from this world, uninvolved.

Yet the testimony of Scripture is that God was involved in the creation of the world:

He walked through the Garden before sin and after.

He chose the nation of Israel.

He spoke through the kings and prophets.

He indwells the life of every believer through the presence of the Holy Spirit.

He worked through the early church.

He gave us the promise of his second coming.

But nothing proves the character and personality of God like the Christmas story when God shows up in Bethlehem.

He is not a God who is detached, cannot be known, or who set the world into motion and then stepped back.

He is a God who set the world into motion and then stepped in.

He showed up.

By showing up, God revealed that he cannot be separated from his creation. We cannot create a space where he is not. He is everywhere he wants to be.

He is there:

in the baptistry and the strip club

in the pulpit and the backroom board negotiations

in the bedroom with your wife or in the hotel room with your girlfriend

at the dinner table with your family or the lunchroom table with your friends

in the church and the club

the classroom and the barroom

in the prayer closet and the kitchen

on stage and at home

There is no where that I can go in which God is not already there.

For many, this is horrible news.

The people in Jesus’ day believed unless they called God into a situation, he was not there. They could go places in which God was not there. They could engage in activities outside of his oversight.

If they were speaking, God was not present in the conversation unless they took an oath. Swear by heaven and God was there; don’t swear by heaven and he was not there.

This allowed them to lie without guilt. They could deceive without remorse.

God was in heaven, they were on earth, and they could do as they wish without concern for him unless they called Him into the situation.

They liked this kind of God—a God who was under their control.

If they didn’t want God there, they simply wouldn’t call on Him; He wouldn’t show up, and they could do whatever they wished and it not be sin.

Yet they were wrong. God was present in all places and at all times. Everything they did was seen by him and either brought glory or shame to him. He was inescapable.

He is inescapable.

In our worst moments, God is there. What no one else knows, he knows. Our darkest secrets are not secrets to him. There is no place which you and I can go, section off, cover up, or deny when it comes to God.

This would be horrible news if it was not for the grace of God. And this news makes the grace of God even greater.

The truth that God has been present through everything which you have done is an equal truth with the rest of the gospel story:

God loves you.

Through his Son, God has made a payment for your sin.

The sacrifice of Jesus is sufficient for your sin.

No one is beyond the forgiveness of God.

If you have experienced his forgiveness, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

If you are a believer he looks at you as though you have never sinned.

The gospel reveals to us a God who knows far more about us than we would ever hope but loves us with a far greater love than we would ever imagine.

This transforms the horrible news into great news—there is no place I can go in which God is not already there.

He’s there in the:

hospital room

viewing room at the funeral home

jail cell

lonely bedroom

boss’ office for the end-of-year review

divorce court

bankruptcy hearing

God is there.

There is no place you and I can go in which he is not. There is nowhere you currently are, and nowhere you will someday be, in which God is not already there.

The great story of Christmas is that God showed up and he keeps showing up. He hasn’t left us despite the fact that we deserved to be left. He hasn’t stopped loving us despite the fact that we aren’t loveable. He hasn’t stopped being involved in our lives.

God is present. For many, this is very bad news. For those who love God, there is no greater news.

3 Responses to The Bad News of God’s Presence
  1. Kerry Reply

    I love your Christmas series. It’s a great way to start the day and keep the craziness of this month is perspective and not get caught up in all the stuff going on around us.

  2. dennyneff Reply

    This essay was one of the most humiliating and horrifying pieces you have written that I have read. Humiliating and horrific because of what it spoke to me. I have know and studied the Omnipresence of God and yet I never put it together as you did for me today. WHEN I SIN GOD IS STANDING THERE NEXT TO ME WATCHING ME SIN; STANDING THERE LISTENING TO THE LIE; STANDING THERE WITH HIS EYES FIXED ON MINE AS I UTTER HURTFUL WORDS TO A CHILD HE CREATED IN HIS IMAGE AND LIKENESS WHO MAY HAVE JUST COME TO THE KNOWEDGE THAT JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS FOR HIS SIN. What a horrify thought that the God I worship on Sunday morning; the God whom I cry to when scared or hurt so deeply that I want to die, is standing next to me when I sin. Oh my, Kevin I have never before thought of His Omnipresence in that fashion. I’ve envisioned it in some shadowy, ethereal, theological terms, but never this personal.

    I don’t know whether to thank you or throw something through your car window. I guess, since God is standing here looking at me, I best thank you. So thank you Pastor for making His presence in my life so very real and alive.

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