We’re told time and time again that God wants to be with us. He wants to have a relationship with us. He wants us to talk to Him and spend time with Him. In Matthew 1:23, it is written that Jesus’ name shall be Immanuel, which literally means God with us.
But if that’s true, why did He leave…? He could have defeated sin and the enemy, and then brought heaven down. Why did He go back to heaven and leave us here to deal with all the darkness in the world?
In biblical times in Jewish culture, a man engaged to be married would have to build on to his parents’ house a home for himself and his wife. He had to find the balance between getting the work done quickly and doing the work well. The family of his wife would be able to see his character and ability to provide for their daughter.
Jesus went back to heaven and seemingly left us here in order to prepare a home for us in heaven. The cross is analogous for our courtship; this period of waiting is analogous to engagement.
As He is preparing our place in heaven, He did not leave us here alone to wander around, trying to do this thing called life on our own. In fact, in John 16:7, Jesus says, “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”
In the Old Testament, the presence of the Lord dwelt in the temple in the Holy of Holies. Once every year, the High Priest would offer sacrifices to the Lord. After tying a cord around his waist, he would enter the Holy of Holies to petition on behalf of the people before the Lord. If any of the sacrifices had been done wrong, the presence of the Lord would kill the priest, and the people would pull the cord to bring his body out. That’s intense.
In the Gospel, the presence of the Lord is manifested in the human body of Jesus Christ. The moment Jesus died on the cross, the veil in the temple tore, meaning the presence of the Lord was no longer solely in the Holy of Holies.
In John 16:4-15, Jesus tells us that when He leaves, His Holy Spirit will come down and dwell within us. His presence left the temple to be everywhere. The presence of God that dwelt in the Holy of Holies is the same presence that lives in us. If you have accepted Christ as your Savior and given your life to Him, then you have the Spirit in you. He is our guarantee for our inheritance.
With His presence, the things of this world become less and less satisfying. Partying, sex, porn, validation from others, food, shopping, busyness, work, or status begin to lose their lackluster. We find it harder to find joy in those things. Instead, we find joy in Him. Before giving my life to Christ, I felt happy. I enjoyed my life. But that happiness I had does not even compare to the joy I have through Christ.
However, just praying a prayer doesn’t mean you’ve actually surrendered your life. A prayer to accept Jesus just to escape hell does not count. Checking things off a religious checklist is not the same thing as having a relationship with God and seeking to be close to Him. Through this closeness, we experience of change of heart.
Pastor Chad recently told me about two types of people who are running from the Lord. The first type is obvious. They’re the people who want nothing to do with God or the church. The second type is harder to see. They’re the people who go to church and do all the right things, but don’t live out their faith. Do either of those descriptions fit you? If yes, we would love to chat with you. Surrendering your life to Christ doesn’t promise a lifetime of sunshine, daisies, and rainbows. It does, however, promise more hope, love, freedom, grace, mercy, and forgiveness that you could ever know what to do with.