I’ve rarely prayed in a group where SOMEONE hasn’t asked God to “be with us”, I’ve prayed it myself. And it can’t be wrong, since Paul prays it: Now the God of peace be with you all. (Rom15:33, also 16:20, 24, end of many of his letters)
But I try to catch myself, I try not to pray this anymore, because I don’t know that we have to ask God to be with us. We can thank Him that He IS with us. He’s already promised that He is.
God with us is part of the Original Design
- Eden: God’s people, in God’s place, in God’s presence. God walked with Adam in the cool of the garden. God With us.
God with us is the great promise of Yahweh through the Old Testament: I am WITH YOU
- Joseph: God was with him.
- Leading the nation of Israel in a pillar of cloud and fire
- Joshua: Be strong and courageous, I am with you
- The Lord is my Shepherd… Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow…
- The promise of the coming Messiah: Emmanuel, “God with Us.” “Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”
Jesus came as Emmanuel, a living embodiment of this “WITH US” promise.
- The angels’ greeting to Mary: Luke 1:28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
- The life of Jesus is a living representation of God’s WITH YOU promise. The original design was God’s people, in His place, in His presence. In Jesus, we have the very presence of God walking among His people, in His place.
There’s gospel good news buried here: In the life of Jesus, God with us, who was He WITH?
- The elite, the powerful, the rulers of the world?
- Jesus was with sinners, prostitutes, traitors, political enemies. Jesus was with religious leaders, the prideful ones who mostly wanted to trap him and the fearful ones who came at night.
It doesn’t look like there was anyone whose social ID or lifestyle kept Jesus from being WITH them.
This is the beauty of the gospel: We can try to exempt others or ourselves from this with you promise of Jesus, but His NAME is Emmanuel. His arms are open wide.
Jesus finished His time on earth with a promise: After commissioning His followers to go out into the world and teach others what they’d learned from Him, He leaves them with the words, “I am WITH YOU ALWAYS.”
In Revelation 21 we’re given a beautiful picture of the City of God, the city whose lamp is the Lamb. The new heaven and the new earth are introduced with these words: Behold, the tabernacle (or dwelling place) of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people and God Himself shall be among them.” Back to the original design: God’s people, in His place, in His presence.
There’s so much in the promise of Emmanuel, God with us: I could easily write a full 12 week study and not run out of things to talk about.
What if we stopped praying and asking God “be with us”, and started living as if He is already? What if we stopped praying for others that God would be with them, and started treating everyone we interact with as if God is with them?
What would change if we lived in this truth?