Christmas/Advent Isaiah Theology Uncategorized

Why ‘God-with-Us’ Seems Far Away

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” Andy Williams sings in the background while we scrap and scramble about, trying to hold ourselves together and not lose our minds in all the wonderful-ness.

While many are weighed down by the external busyness of the season, I want to speak to those of us who are carrying a secret inner burden we may be afraid to share with others, or even admit to ourselves. I mean that gnawing sense of distance from God and the goodness and intimacy we’ve heard spoken about so often but experienced so rarely.

The Season of Advent is for preparing our hearts to receive the God who bridges the cosmic gap, and draws near to His wayward creation through the incarnation of Jesus the Messiah. But why does Immanuel, which means “God with us,” still seem so far away sometimes? I suspect the reason has to do with the mental picture of God we hold in our pursuit of a relationship with Him.

A. W. Tozer has famously said:

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.

For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.

We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God.

This Advent season we will be unwrapping the gift of a fuller, more accurate picture of God given to us by the prophet Isaiah who describes the Newborn King in the following memorable lines:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

What might it mean to be guided by the WONDERFUL COUNSELOR? What might it mean to cast our cares upon a MIGHTY GOD? What might it mean to find in God a tender and EVERLASTING FATHER? What might it mean to live under the reign of the PRINCE OF PEACE?

Join us for our Advent Sermon Series at MainStreet and find out!

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Jeremy Berg is the founding pastor of MainStreet Covenant Church in Mound, Minnesota, and Professor of Theology at Solid Rock Discipleship School. Jeremy is completing his doctorate in New Testament Context under Dr. Scot McKnight at Northern Seminary in Chicago. He holds a M.A. in Theological Studies from Bethel Seminary (2005) and B.A. from Bethel University (2002). He and his wife, Kjerstin, keep busy chasing around three kids, Peter, Isaak and Abigail.

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