As a little child I remember being in a church building and my mother telling me, “God lives here”. My next question might have been obvious: “Is that God?” as I pointing to a man standing in the balcony. No, that was not God, and my Mom bravely tried to explain how God is here, but He’s invisible…
Later on, I noticed that God didn’t seem so invisible in the Bible stories I heard. Everyone knew He was there and doing things like talking to Adam and Eve, parting seas, sending plagues, and talking from a burning bush – not to mention creating the world.
He seemed very busy back then, but what’s going on with God lately – what is He doing now? Is He on vacation? Then I read a story about Jesus in His home town of Nazareth. They all knew His family, and they were offended by the idea that He was “special”. So they didn’t see many miracles. They didn’t see God show up for them. So maybe the question isn’t “What is God doing?” but rather, “What are we seeing?”
Jesus had a message – still has a message. Matthew the tax collector wrote it down, and we labeled it “Matthew 4:17”. Most Bibles read: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”. I am not sure who knows what that means, but the words that were translated that way are: “metanoeo”, which literally means to “go beyond your mind”; and, “basileia toon ourannon”, the “rule of Heaven”, which is a euphemism for God, whom Jesus says is “at hand”. So I think it is fair to say that the message Jesus began to give was this:
“Get over yourselves; God is in the room”
This changes things for me. I notice that every time the disciples of Jesus ended up preaching it was right after God “showed up” – someone was healed, or freed from an evil spirit. Jesus told the Pharisees, “But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you!” (Luke 11:20)
So the problem in Nazareth was not that they didn’t have God with them. The problem was that they could not admit it. The way God was showing up was too “familiar”, and so they missed it. This message of Jesus is not so much about theology or forgiveness of sins, but about the fact that God is in the room, and the only reason we don’t notice is because we are not over ourselves.
Maybe that is what we are missing as we secretly wish God would come visit us and rescue our lives. Are the ways He is coming to us just too familiar? What would happen if we could just step aside and let God be known – right where we are? What kinds of things would we see God do? Who wants to find out?…