“I heard a loud voice from the throne say, ‘Look! God’s dwelling is here with humankind. He will dwell with them, and they will be his peoples. God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying, or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away’” (Revelation 21:3-4, CEB).
Because God is love, He is seeking humans to receive His love. But, God’s love is eternal so His love affair with the human race is of cosmic proportions.
You see, God is preparing a place for Him to live together with us, forever!
While God dwells with us (in us) by His Spirit in this world, in the world to come this cosmic love affair will no longer be constrained by distance. God plans to dwell among us!
“And this is the testimony: God gave eternal life to us, and this life is in his Son. The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have God’s Son does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12, CEB).
God is love. But, love, God’s love, is incomplete and unfulfilled unless it’s received and reciprocated. So, God is desperately seeking humans to love Him back. To have fellowship with Him. To enter into a love-relationship with Him.
But, the reality of God’s love is not the reality we see. The reality we see says that life on Earth is all there is. The reality we see tells us that when we die we’re done.
“God is love. This is how the love of God is revealed to us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him. This is love: it is not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as the sacrifice that deals with our sins… We love because God first loved us” (1 John 4:9-10,19 CEB).
God’s absolute nature is love. So, God is love in action!
But, for love’s action to be complete, it requires not only the giving of it but also the receiving and returning of it.
If God just emanated love, He would merely be a spectator of His creation, a cosmic stalker, of sorts, of the beings He created for love!
“The Lord is good, a haven in a day of distress. He acknowledges those who take refuge in him. With a rushing flood, he will utterly destroy her place and pursue his enemies into darkness” (Nahum 1:7-8, CEB).
Nahum prophesied during a time when Judah was attempting to gain independence from its Assyrian overlords. His prophecy foretold the destruction of the Assyrian capital of Nineveh.
Nahum begins his prophecy on the downfall of Assyria by laying a theological framework describing the character of God. In verse 1 Nahum says God is jealous and vengeful, full of wrath, and rages against His enemies. He says that although God is great in power, God is calculating and severe when administering justice: “Who can stand before his indignation? Who can confront the heat of his fury?” (vs 6).
“Jesus said to them, ‘I assure you, unless you eat the flesh of the Human One and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in them. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me lives because of me’” (John 6:53-57, CEB).
I’m not so certain that in these verses Jesus is just talking about taking communion. Certainly, communion celebrates the flesh and blood sacrifice of Jesus through the imagery of the bread and the wine. I suppose these verses might even be used to support the notion that the bread and wine of the Eucharist is somehow changed into the body and blood of Christ.
But I don’t think that’s at all what Jesus had in mind here.
“They asked, ‘What must we do in order to accomplish what God requires?’ Jesus replied, ‘This is what God requires, that you believe in him whom God sent'” (John 6:28-29, CEB).
Most Christians are trying to find and do God’s will in their lives. In fact, a lot of our personal prayer and Bible study efforts are focused on knowing and doing God’s will.
As we attempt to find and do God’s will, we have a tendency to gauge whether a thing is God’s will by our circumstances. If things are going our way and we’re successful, then we must be doing God’s will. But if we’re facing difficulties and things aren’t going as planned, then we must be missing God’s will.
“But I know this; I was blind, and now I can see!…He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.” (John 9:25,30-33, NLT).
As Jesus and His disciples are walking along they came across a man who was blind from birth and was also a beggar.
The disciples asked Jesus to provide a theological explanation for the man’s unfortunate condition and circumstances: “Why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” (vs 2).
“And word from the Lord was rare in those days, visions were infrequent…Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor had the word of the Lord yet been revealed to him…Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle…What is the word that He spoke to you, Please do not hide it from me…And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, because the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord” (1 Samuel 3:1,7,11,17,21, NASB).
In ancient Israel the presence of absence of God’s prophetic voice was considered to be evidence of the presence or absence of God and the presence or absence of His favor.
“Then Son of man, let all my words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself. Then go to your people in exile and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’ Do this whether they listen to you or not.” (Ezekiel 3:10-11, NLT).
In this commissioning of Ezekiel for God’s service, there are two points that are relevant for disciples of Jesus.
“When the king heard what was written in the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes in despair” (2 Kings 22:11, NLT).
Have you ever tried to assemble something without reading the instructions? Maybe you started putting it together and one part was backwards or upside down and it prevented you from assembling the rest of the parts. Or maybe you assembled it all and had parts left over and it didn’t work right.