“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it….
And the Word became flesh, and made his dwelling among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth…” (from John 1)
Now I love camping – and the other night, I heard an interesting thing about the word “dwell” in this passage. The Greek word here is σκηνόω (pronounced skénoó) which means “to pitch or live in a tent.” So, in this passage, it refers to the fact that God himself actually pitched a tent and lived among us :-)
Understanding the real meaning of this word is super significant because in the Old Testament, the presence of God resided within the tabernacle. People had to wash themselves and perform rituals to get right before God before they could enter the tabernacle, the place where God’s presence was housed. Indeed, before the time of Christ, God assigned powerful leaders to build and take care of the tabernacle, the portable dwelling place of God on the earth.
But the good news is that God didn’t leave us there. When Jesus came, everything changed – the “word” of God became actual human flesh in the form of a man named Jesus Christ. And because of this, no longer is there one specific tent where we have to go to find God. When we were bound by rituals and rules in order to be in a right relationship with God, God came to us so that when we believe in Him, we can experience the fullness of a life with Him every moment of every day. That is the difference about Christianity from any other religion – rather than us having to do X, Y, or Z to get to God, rather God came down to get to us. And when you believe in Christ, fully surrendering all you are for Him, the Holy Spirit begins to change you and transform you to make you more like Him. This “word” becomes flesh and dwells among you in your heart so that you can live and dwell within His presence every day of your life. Indeed, in Him, we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). Each one of us becomes the temple, the house, the tent of God and as we cultivate our relationship with Him, His love, joy, peace spills outward from our hearts onto the world around us. Indeed, He is inviting each one of us into a bigger story, His story, the story of how God’s people throughout the ages have molded, shaped, and transformed our world to be more like Him.
We serve Emmanuel, God with us, God who is no longer just up in the sky, or in a tent, but who is here with us. That’s beautiful, isn’t it?