The Witness of Withness: An Advent Devotional – Day Twenty-one

It’s presence that makes a relationship.

God seems to get that. In fact, it’s the very reason Jesus was sent to earth. Born of an unwed, virgin teenager, He came to the lowliest of men so that every person, from every station in life, would have opportunity to have a relationship with Him.

In Matthew 1:23, Jesus was fittingly christened Immanuel – which means, God with us. Divine nature uniting with human nature. Salvation come to earth at the mere mercy of God alone, through the precious gift of His Son. Redemption found at the foot of a bloody cross. Intimate relationship offered with the rending of temple’s veil at the fingertips of the Almighty.

Immanuel came to show us the goodness of our Father and to bring freedom to those who lived in captivity. A freedom grounded in justice, mercy, and humble adoration of the One who teaches us the meaning of them all.

Micah 6:8 states: He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

While this thought implies a good directive, without the final three words, I can’t help but think we are missing the fullness of its true exhortation. And perhaps, along with the missing words, we are missing out on the only way to fully live the suggested actions, as well.

With your God.

It’s those final three words in Micah 6:8 that pack the punch — the gift of our presence offered back to the Giver of Life.

The action God requires of us is not paying a price for the pardon of our sin; that was already signed, sealed, and delivered by Jesus’ blood dripping down Calvary’s cross. Rather, it is the gift of love itself. A gift that cannot be conjured by mere human effort, but one that naturally emits from having a relationship with our Savior. It is a love produced as we offer our very lives into His keeping, committed to walking with God. Embracing His character and living lives exemplified by justice, mercy, and humble thanksgiving.

John 1:14 tells us the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us (emphasis mine).

Jesus the Christ.

Immanuel –- God with man. God in man — uniting us by the power of His Holy Spirit.

Through the preaching of His word. With the healing of His hands. By the promised and living Savior in our midst.

Immanuel – the most holy and intimate fellowship between God and man imaginable.

As we walk the course of our lives, let’s not forget to include those final three words of Micah 6:8. Act justly… with your God. Love mercy… with your God. And walk humbly… with your God.

This Christmas may we wrap our hearts around the presence of Immanuel, and offer the gift of our own in return. Let’s not only celebrate the wonder of God with us but invite Him to celebrate the gift of us with God.

After all, it’s presence that makes a relationship.

Are there areas in your life you find yourself withholding from God? Are there people to whom you are tempted to deny justice or mercy? Today would be a good day to humbly admit those struggles and to take them before the throne of grace. God is so utterly in love with you, my friend, and He wants to release you to walk in the fullness of His love — with Him and toward others. Ask Him to intervene on your behalf today. You will find He is gracious enough to do so.

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