God With Us
"Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall call his name,
Emanuel, which is translated, God with us."
-- Matthew 1:23
My parents moved our family to the Brooklyn, New York area of Brownsville when I was just a kid. I was too small to realize we lived in the worst ghetto. Eventually, it became quite obvious. Growing up in that city, I went through a lot. I had to fight my way through school – literally. There was a great deal of ethnicity-based persecution and when I began school, I could not speak English. From time to time, a group of bullies would pick on me. They would surround me, knock my books onto the floor, and call me names. I had no one to turn to. Until the day that changed it all.
I was in the schoolyard after school when the mean boys came at me cursing and putting me down. I knew I could take down the ringleader, but I was outnumbered. There was no hope of getting out of this one unharmed. Then something surprising happened. My father had never come to my school – not even for the activities I was involved in. But that day, he did something unexpected.
He showed up.
Out of nowhere, just as the bullies were closing in on me, Pop walks into the yard and sees what I am up against. As the group came closer, Pop breaks into the circle.
“Okay, everybody back up. This fight is between these two. Vic, you and this boy get in the middle.”
Suddenly the odds were in my favor. I beat the living daylights out of the big guy because he was standing alone, and he had nothing on me. From that moment on, I had a reputation. No one picked on me again after the day my father showed up and transformed everything.
That is what Jesus did for the world.
In the second letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul writes, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient." (Ephesians 2:1-2, NIV)
That was humanity – you, me. And who was bossing us around? Satan, the big bully. The devil intimidated and terrorized us. And we let him. We even followed him wanting to be accepted by the other people crawling and clawing after him. Oh, but, praise the Lord; One day, Jesus, the Son of God showed up. He came down from Heaven. He showed that devil who is in charge. And he taught us how to beat him.
The only way the enemy can pull you under and penetrate your life is to disrupt or distort your knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Your connection with the Father, your faith in Him and reliance on God as protector and provider is the catalyst to your victory.
This is a spiritual battle, but you are not alone. You are not outnumbered. The enemy can try to gang up on you with this trouble, that illness, and the other obstacle, but the God who shows up for you is greater than the bully on the playground (1 John 4:4).
Emmanuel. God with us.