How then shall we live?
Emmanuel – God is with us. Our God who saves is with us! Embracing this truth was what made me a Christian.
What’s more, through the Holy Spirit, God is in us! This is a wonderful truth, and each time I hear the words of that beautiful benediction (“and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14), my heart gets touched to the core. God is with us, and in us.
So what is next? Grasping this truth of Emmanuel calls for a response, as echoed in the words of Michael Card’s song Immanuel:
So what will be your answer? Will you hear the call?
Of Him who did not spare His son but gave Him for us all
How then shall we live?
I would like to suggest two things from scripture.
First, God with us means that we may now be filled with God’s love to go and love one another. Many of us know by heart these words of Jesus: For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them (Matthew 18:20). But note that this was stated in the context of reconciliation between brothers, and the need to forgive one another [read the whole chapter]. The surest sign then that God is with us is when we are engaged in promoting peace and unity in love and mercy. God with us, God who sticks it through with us, wants us to stick it through with our brothers and sisters.
Therefore, if you have a broken relationship that needs to be restored, if you know of someone you need to forgive, or be forgiven by – as much as God is with you, please go and make peace with him or her.
The second point concerns our relationship with the rest of the world.
Our speaker Tze-Ming drew our attention to Matthew 18:18-20. Again, these are famous words: Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (v. 20). But once more, did you notice the context? Jesus, vested with all authority, had just issued the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations.
Many of us have not taken this Commission seriously enough… we have often tried to outsource responsibility to a select few, when it really applies to ALL. Perhaps many feel that this is a real hard Commission to carry out; but of course it is hard when we think of doing it by our own strength and wit.
So Jesus gave those assuring words: I am with you always. God is with us. The Holy Spirit who dwells in us is (if you will) the CEO of Missions. He will empower you to witness for Jesus. He will give you the words to say. In fact, the Spirit of Emmanuel will speak through you, even in the face of opposition (Matthew 10:20; Luke 12:12; Mark 13:11). He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). What a glorious emboldening truth!
Therefore, since God is with us, let’s proclaim lovingly and boldly that our Lord Emmanuel has come!
How then will you spend this Christmas season?