There’s an old story about God creating the world – in this story God is some kind of amorphous solitary being, sitting in magnificent isolation in heaven and then, one day, deciding to create this world. Why? Maybe because he was lonely, maybe because he was bored and could find nothing to watch on Netflix – we’re never really sure why, but this solitary, distant being who lives somewhere above the clouds allegedly decided to make this world and to create human beings, whom he would watch from a distance as they go about their lives down here on Earth, sometimes throwing some morsels down to them, sometimes smiting them in anger, but all from a huge distance.
There are people in this world who worship that imaginary deity.
But me – I thank God (the real, non-imaginary one) that he isn’t like that!
Not only is he not into staying distant and aloof from us – Jesus is God come down to live as one of us! – but he isn’t some solitary being, and never has been! Right in the very beginning of the Bible we’re introduced to God through the Hebrew word Elohim, which is a plural noun! And though it’s a plural noun, it regularly takes a verb in singular – giving us a very big clue about the nature of God: a united plurality. Three persons who are in complete and utter unity. (And that’s what it means when the Bible says “God is one” – totally united!)
Which means that loving relationship is an essential part of what God is like. When God made us, he was extending the family that already existed – inviting us into a relationship with the triune God who is relationship!
And though we rebelled against him, through Jesus he offers us a way back.
The imaginary deities of man-made religions – they don’t do that. They remain distant and aloof, waiting for us to make the effort, to somehow climb the stairway to heaven – as if we could! But the real deal, the God who made this world and all that’s in it – he is the God who comes down to us.
He is the God who gets his hands dirty – right in the beginning (Genesis 2:7-8) we’re told that “the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.” This is not a distant being high above the clouds – this is God active in a very practical, down to earth sort of way. He even plants a garden for us!
Throughout the Bible we have tons of instances when God shows up in person, talks to people, intervenes in their lives – he’s never been some distant being who stays up in heaven and watches us from up above!
The amazing culmination of all this? It’s what is being celebrated today: the Word made flesh. God the Son, who was there right from the beginning, taking on human flesh so that he could live as one of us and die as one of us – dying in our place, as the ultimate atoning sacrifice for all mankind. Jesus is the complete antithesis to that imaginary concept of the remote, distant, solitary deity in the sky. Jesus is God stooping to our level, even becoming a helpless baby – and ultimately going to a horrible painful death so that we could have eternal life!
I’m going to leave God’s Word to have the final word here:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.