Emmanuel isn't a word just for Christmas but is at the core of the gospel of the kingdom... and our lives!
Back in the Day...
Throughout the Old Testament individual people encountered the presence of God...
"My presence will go with you and I will give you rest" (Exodus 33:14)
Moses encounters God’s presence - God's presence goes with him. Miracles, signs and wonders are performed by Moses, wisdom is dispensed by Moses and a new, distinct, way of living is rolled out by Moses. All because of his encounters and his desire to practise the presence of God.
Joshua, a young man during the desert wandering, goes on to lead Israel into the promised land, their place of rest and the place they would be established as a flourishing nation. Joshua's ability to do this all starts way back with lingering encounters of God's presence (check out his holy habit in Exodus 33:11).
Through Israel's leaders practicing the presence of God, his presence goes with the whole nation and they become a distinctive people that have the potential to change the world. Sadly, Israel, and their leaders, have times where they forget about hosting God's presence and never fully live out the world changing potential they held.
"When you add your milk to the cup of tea - you can’t take the milk out again, it's there to stay, just like God's presence on earth."
Out of this failed nation, now living on the flip side of various deportations and occupations by foreign nations, emerges Jesus. God made himself flesh - he moved into the neighbourhood - his presence was made explicit here on earth. Heaven broke out around him, nature responded to his presence - check out the healings, the weather, the water that became wine and even the crazy events around his crucifixion and resurrection (did someone say darkness covering the earth, earthquakes, dead people rising from the grave and religious symbols being torn apart?... yes they did!)
Since all this kicked off it has never stopped. After Jesus ascends to heaven he pours out his spirit - his immediate and intimate presence on all who want to follow him. In doing so he fulfils what the prophets announced centuries before (check out Joel 2:28 for starters). A whole new era is ushered in!
So what is this meant to look like. Well, Jesus! Many will say, 'we can't actually be Just like Jesus though can we? We can't live exactly like Jesus because he was God!'. But the bible speaks of how he left this all behind and became human in nature. Jesus gave up his glory to become a human who practised the presence of God. Jesus is humanity in partnership with God - exactly as we are meant to be - and, now because of Jesus and the outpouring of Holy Spirit, we can be.
The kingdom of heaven entered the room when Jesus did. When we walk into a room the good news of the kingdom should burst into the room too - not just with words but with demonstrations of Holy Spirit power (check out what Paul says to the church in Corinth in 1 Cor 2:4).
When you, as a follower of Jesus, walk into a room, heaven walks in with you!
Practice the Presence
"Getting alone with God and learning what his voice sounds like in the quiet teaches us how to hear his voice amid the craziness of life and respond with what God is wanting to do. This becomes our natural mode of life; when we spend time with God we become like him and begin to act like him - we carry his presence into every situation that makes up our day."
For ideas on hosting God's presence as a family check out our articles on prayer and intercession as well as our outreach toolkit and even our outreach reports for stories of God's presence through our presence in communities around the world.