Psalm 132:13-14 says: “For the LORD has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation. This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.” We find in these verses several expressions of how God will be among His people: “Habitation … resting place … dwell …” It is God WITH His people, among them. This is the whole thing; THIS is what it is all about; this is what we were made for: that God would be among us.
— We were created for this personally: that God would be with us, and in us. The whole point of personal salvation is that the Holy Spirit of God comes into our lives and sets up residence within us: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27) “sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13) “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith … Jesus Christ is in you — unless indeed you fail the test.” (II Corinthians 13:5) This is what makes a person “saved.” And yet for how many is this not genuinely true? Many people have a “religion”, but there is no “God in them” — no evidence or thought of it whatsoever!
— This is to be the distinctive of the church: that GOD is with us. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 14:25 that when a lost person enters our services, “he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.” THAT is the thing which will convict and save: NOT our “creativity” or “quality programs”, but that GOD HIMSELF is among us! If we do not have the presence of His Holy Spirit among us in our congregation, there remains an irreplaceable void which nothing else can make up for — and this is exactly the case in most of our churches. People are not falling on their faces and declaring that God is among us — because He is NOT! — and no amount of entertainment and smoke machines and manipulation can ever make up for that.
— This is the eternal hope and goal of God’s people. This what “heaven”/”the new Jerusalem” is all about: that we will spend eternity in the very presence of God. “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them” (Rev. 21:3). “In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Psalm 16:11)
From the beginning of the Christian life with the new birth, to its eternal culmination in glory, Christianity is all about God dwelling with His people. But all of this was made possible only because of what we celebrate on Christmas: that God the Son left heaven to come to earth in the person of Jesus Christ, that He might be Immanuel: “God with us” (Matt. 1:23) — and by His redemption ensure that He might be with His people personally, corporately, and eternally!