Immanuel (God is with us)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning…For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.”  – John 1:1-2; 17-18

“‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means “God with us”).”  – Matthew 1:23

In a recent survey of faith conducted by Baylor University, they found that Americans on average have four very different images of God — from a wrathful deity thundering at sinful humanity to a distant power uninvolved in mankind’s affairs. The researchers named this phenomena America’s “Four Gods” and describes them as follows…

  1. The Authoritarian God (Very Judgmental and Engaged) (31.4% of Americans overall, 43.3% in the South):  People that believe that God is angry at humanity’s sins and is engaged in every creature’s life and world affairs. He is ready to throw the thunderbolt of judgment down on “the unfaithful or ungodly.”
  2. The Critical God (Judgmental but not Engaged) (16% overall, 21.3% in the East):  People that believe that God has his judgmental eye on the world, but he’s not going to intervene, either to punish or to comfort.
  3. The Benevolent God (Engaged but not Judgmental) (23% overall, 28.7% in the Midwest):  People that believe that God is engaged but not judgmental.
  4. The Distant God (Completely Removed) (24.4% overall, 30.3% in the West):  People see this God as a God who does not care. Followers of this God see a cosmic force that launched the world, then left it spinning on its own.

Obviously, there is not a common understanding or knowledge of the nature of God in the hearts and minds of people today. We live in a world that doesn’t understand God. How does God think? How does God feel? What would it be like to spend a day with God? Does God have a sense of humor? Does he feel pain or emotion? So many today question the existence of God or don’t understand the heart and mind of God and therefore spend so little time pursuing Him and in fact most of their time running from him. However, God in His infinite wisdom came up with a beautiful plan so that we could fully know Him and seek Him. The following story of a faithless man’s interaction with some stranded geese will help us better understand…

The Lovacheffs arrive in Colorado on Saturday!
The Lovacheffs arrive in Colorado on Saturday!

There was once a man who didn’t believe in God, and he didn’t hesitate to let others know how he felt about religion and religious holidays.

His wife, however, did believe and she raised their children to have faith in God and the Lord Jesus Christ despite his disparaging comments. On one snowy Christmas Eve, his wife was taking their 2 children to a special Christmas Eve service in the farm community in which they lived. They were to talk about the birth of Jesus that night. She asked him to come along just like she had done so many times before, but he refused her once again…

“That story is nonsense!” he barked. “Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a man? That’s ridiculous!”

So she and the children left, and he stayed home.

A while later, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As the man looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He then sat down to relax before the fire for the evening when he heard a very loud thump… Something had hit the window…so He looked out but couldn’t see more than a few feet. When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside to see what could have been beating on his window.

In the field near his house he saw a flock of wild geese. Apparently they had been flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm and couldn’t go on. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. And a couple of them had flown into his window, it seemed.

The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. The barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It’s warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm. So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside. But the geese just fluttered around aimlessly and didn’t seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. The man tried to get their attention by waving a lantern, but that just seemed to scare them, and they moved further away. He went into the house and came with some bread, broke it up, and made a bread crumb trail leading to the barn, but they still didn’t catch on.

Now he was getting frustrated. He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except toward the open barn doors. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe.

“Why don’t they follow me?!” he exclaimed. “Can’t they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?”

He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn’t follow a human. “If only I were a goose, then I could save them,” he said out loud. Then he had an idea! He went into barn, got one of his own geese and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese. He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn — and one-by-one, the other geese followed it to safety. He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed loudly in his mind: “If only I were a goose, then I could save them!” Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier that evening. “Why would God want to be like us? That’s ridiculous!”

Suddenly it all made perfect sense to him. That is what God had done! We were like the geese–blind, lost, and perishing. God, through Jesus Christ, become like us so He could show us the way, and save us!

As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet and pondered this wonderful thought. Suddenly he understood why Jesus Christ had come. Years of doubt and disbelief vanished with the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer:

“Thank You, God, for coming in human form to get me out of the storm!”

Author ~ Unknown

It is so encouraging that through Jesus Christ we can fully see and understand God. God’s beautiful plan was to give us Himself in the flesh. We no longer have to live in wonder. We simply need to study out Jesus and then follow in his footsteps. This is the best gift of all time…Merry Christmas!

“This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:5b-6)


Jeremiah Clark