Christmas is the celebration of the “Withness” of God!! Jesus stepped out of heaven and off His throne to come to earth to be with us. (Philippians 2:5-8)
My friend Kris Lyle, who studies biblical languages, posted something recently about the word, with. He was researching with and discovered some interesting stuff about the way it was used in the Ancient Near East (ANE). Here’s what he wrote:
I’m quoting from the Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, volume I, page 451; the author has just said that with doesn’t really occur in conjunction with people and God in the ANE. In other words, besides Israel, we don’t have much evidence that the surrounding nations thought of, spoke of or experienced their gods and goddesses in a way that they could say “God is with me,” as Israel does throughout their history. So here’s the quote:
“Even if additional examples are discovered, it is still remarkable that the formula of the presence of a deity with man is very rare in the ancient Near East, while it appears frequently in the OT, where it expresses a basic element in the Yahweh faith. Is it possible that the content of this formula expresses something typical (if not also equally “genuine”!) for the faith of Israel?”
I love it!!! The same God who we know as “Emmanuel” meaning “God with us,” had already revealed Himself to the ancient Israelites in a similar way. It was normal for them (Israel) to talk about God as with them, but all the other nations spoke of their gods differently – distant, impersonal. This scholar has accidentally hit upon the very thing that sets our faith apart. Our God is with us. He was withthe ancient Israelites, but He also sent His son, Jesus to be with us in human form and then sent the Holy Spirit to remain with us until His return. He has always been with us and will remain with us until the end of time. Christmas is a celebration of this withness. Emmanuel = “God with us”
“I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20
In doing some homework today, I was reminded of a seminar I went to that was talking about the difference between modern and postmodern leadership. I personally think the example they gave fits more with Biblical leadership and worldly leadership. Anyway, the main idea is that worldly leadership is like that of the Wizard and Jesus’ leadership is like Dorthy.
The Wizard’s Leadership (Similar to the World)
He hid behind the machine(organization) and commanded others what to do.
He intimidated others.
He wanted things his way.
He tried not to be a real person, but just a voice.
There was a lot of smoke and mirrors with his leadership.
In the end, he was a fraud.
Dorthy’s Leadership (Similar to Jesus)
She journeyed with her followers and led out of relationships
Her followers were also friends and she sympathized with them.
She wanted what was best for them.
She didn’t let anything keep her from moving forward.
When there were battles, she was a part of the fight.
She kept them on the right track (yellow brick road).
She was an encourager.
She was child-like and humble.
She skipped and sang a lot and had a dog.
There were alot more ideas that people had that day, but this is all I can remember and I haven’t been able to find my notes from that day. Anyway, I think you get the idea. It’s a fun way to look at leadership.
Not sure why, but tonight I was thinkin’ about an old movie called “With Honors.” It’s one of my favorites. If you’re ever in Blockbuster or remember when you’re putting together your Netflix Queue – it’s a good one. I’d give it two thumbs up!
The movie centers on a college guy who is really ambitious about graduating “with honors.” Through a weird series of events he ends up meeting a homeless guy and they become friends. I don’t wanna give it all away, but there are some great lessons about priorities and remembering that people are always important to God – even homeless, throw-away-and-ignore-type people. (To God that type of person doesn’t exist because everyone is important.) Anyway – check it out if you get the chance.