“The Word became flesh, and lived among us.” – John 1: 14
Recently Lutheran pastor and author Nadia Bolz Weber was interviewed on the radio program “Fresh Air.” She mentioned the earnest seminarian who at one of her speaking engagements asked, “Pastor Nadia, what are your ways, your spiritual practices, for getting closer to God?”
“Why would I want to get close to God,” responded Bolz Weber. “Whenever Jesus gets close to me I end up having to love someone I hate, give away more of my money, or forgive someone I don’t want to forgive.” She went on to say that in her life it feels more like “God has come after me.”
We do often seem to think of the Christian faith as our human search for God, our feeble attempt to get close to God. The Bible tells a different story, one more in line with Bolz Weber’s experience: the story of the God who keeps showing up, intruding, refusing to leave us alone, searching for us. A God who won’t take “no” for an answer.
Just when we thought we were safe in some gated community (there are a lot of different kinds of gates and fences), God moves into the neighborhood, pitching her tent on the corner, down the hall, or next door.
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.”
Is that a threat or a promise? Watch out, God has moved into the neighborhood.
Thank you, Jesus, for not staying safe in a distant heaven, but for moving into the neighborhood. Deliver me when I am tempted to say, “Not in my backyard.” Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul’s Letters to Timothy for a New Day. You can read Tony’s “Weekly Meditation” and “What’s Tony Thinking?” at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.