“Jesus” which means “Savior.”
Matthew 1:21 – “She will give birth to a on, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
“Immanuel” which means “God with us.”
Matthew 1:23 – “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” —which means, “God with us.”
The pairing of these names tips us of a reversal in our typical understanding of salvation. We usually think of salvation as Jesus “saves” us from grief, heartache, or injustice. What we really want is for Jesus to change our circumstance and make all things better.
But God revealed Jesus as the Savior-Immanuel which means that salvation is not our ascent out of the hard, pain-filled conditions of this world. The real miracle…our real salvation is that God is WITH us. The Christian life is not about getting life fixed; because the reality is, some things can’t be fixed. It is about experiencing God’s presence it the mess of our unfixedness.
Salvation is certainly the release from the penalty of our sins but it is more than that. It is a matter of having our eyes opened to see that God is with us in this life. We are not along in our brokenness. Christ now enters every confusing, fearful, restless place in our lives and offers himself as a place of refuge and peace. Rather than our be defined by our circumstances, we discover “the saving love of Christ is the measure of our lives.”
When we really see that, we can start to embrace life’s ambiguity and all of sudden it is okay that life is a bit muddled. It’s okay that things don’t make sense and don’t come to tidy conclusions because we can know God is with us in the midst of it. This means we can spend less time worrying about how to get life fixed and a lot more time praying to see the face of God in every circumstance.
Once we understand this, we begin to cultivate a life with God, a life that was not lived on the surface of things. We begin to let go of the “death grip” on our cherished image of life of our own making. Eventually we begin to realize it is not about how we can make life “work” better but how we can, on a continual basis stay attentive and available to the transforming presence of Christ in us.
“Spirituality is not about competency; it is about intimacy. Spirituality is not about perfection; it is about connection. The way of the spiritual life begins where we are now in the mess of our lives. Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality, not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws, but because we let go of seeking perfection and instead seek God, the one who is present in the tangledness of our lives.” Mike Yaconelli
In the words of the angel Gabriel, “The Lord is with you….Do not be afraid.”
Questions for Reflection:
What circumstances have you been so focused on that you have missed God’s presence in the midst of it?
What can you do to cultivate a life that is “not lived on the surface of things”?