At the end of our block is a sign which says, “Apartment for Rent”, advertising the unit below us. The tenant moved away Thanksgiving weekend. In the entire year she lived under us, we never heard a peep. She moved in a complete stranger and stayed a stranger. One day I asked her name but she only told me her first name. Our lives were not rocked by her entrance or exit.
What if instead she had been a co-tenant with us? Lived in our apartment, shared our furniture, our utilities, our conversations, our life. Her arrival and departure would have affected our lives. We may have either wept or rejoiced, but our lives would have shifted.
THE NEW NEIGHBOR
John 1:1-14 describes someone whose entrance into the world rocked the existence of mankind. This new neighbor is referred to as The Word. If The Word had to fill out an application to live with us, John would write “The Word’s previous address was the universe, from eternity.” As for previous housemates, John would write, “The Word was with God.” He might also have written in parenthesis: (by the way, The Word was God). This new neighbor, announced by John, was not going to be someone unseen, who would silently go about his business. This new inhabitant would send shock waves across the world that would exist for centuries. In other words, The Word is Immanuel, “God with us”.
HE’S NOT A LONG WAY OFF
The Old Testament tells us about another situation where God lived in the midst of people. The Tabernacle and Solomon’s temple both contained the “Holy of Holies” – the Glory of God. This was called by Jewish rabbis the “Shekhinah Glory”; “the visible presence of God among men”. God decided to room among a people who rarely loved Him or fully devoted themselves to Him. In the Book of John, God is announced as again pitching His tent, but this time the Tent was in human form, “Immanuel”; God with us. Spurgeon warns us about our attitude about the new neighbor, Immanuel, “Do not let us live as if God were a long way off.”
LIVED WITH US IN ORDER TO DIE
Immanuel did not come as judge and executioner. All of us already were guilty before Him and were doomed to everlasting punishment. John Piper writes: “The Word, the Son, who is God, became flesh to reveal a divine glory that is “full of grace and truth.” The Word of God became flesh to be gracious to us.” “Grace” is “God’s favor toward the unworthy”. In His grace, God is willing to forgive us and bless us abundantly, in spite of the fact that we don’t deserve to be treated so well or dealt with so generously. Piper continues, “The Word became flesh so that this graciousness to us would come in accord with God’s truthfulness. This is a righteous, God-exalting, costly grace. It led straight to Jesus’ death on the cross. In fact, this is why he became flesh. He had to have flesh in order to die.”
HE WILL LIVE WITH YOU
God has come close to you in Jesus Christ. He is Immanuel. You don’t have to struggle to make a connection with this new Neighbor, just invite Him in. He will come to you. God is in the House! This Neighbor has rocked my world. I will never be the same. He lives in my apartment, my heart, my soul. He has promised to never leave me or forsake me. I don’t have to go searching for someone else. That sign announcing room for rent has gone down, because God has made His Home with me for eternity.
In case you want to read further about this New Neighbor, click Revelation 19:11-16