Recently Addison (our 4 year old) was playing with action figure Jesus among many other toys along with her younger sister, Sophie. I enjoy watching them play, though usually it’s hard not to get invited in. They were beginning to play with several “dolls” at the same time, and setting up what was happening. That’s when it happened.
Addie stood up from where they were playing, and carried action figure Jesus all the way across the room, setting him down on a chair. “Jesus is all the way over here, because he is far far away from all of us in the real world.”
Yikes. All of a sudden, this topic about what God has in store for us, which has fundamental roots in “Where Heaven is” seems like much more central than previously thought. We know that where the Son resides presently is not in some far off location, that only if we had a telescope powerful enough, we could spot. Yet, without thinking about it, that is precisely the theology many Christians subscribe to. That Jesus is somewhere “up there”, and that someday he will come “down here” to take those who love him to a portion of the galaxy somehow untouched by sin for all these years.
How is that conveying the fact that many times in the New Testament, we find words describing our savior such as “Immanuel”, “God With Us”, or even bluntly “I am with you…”?
I’ve talked before, and better interpreters and theologians have said with better language, where Jesus is presently seems much more another dimension of the physical space as we understand it right here. In the resurrected Christ, we see the marriage of these dimensions, and the possibilities of moving between these dimensions in our future “resurrection bodies”. But at the moment, our connection to this ultimate “reality” is veiled until God determines to lift that veil, revealing and pouring Himself out completely. Calling our present existence a veiled reality is not escapism. For this is the very physical world that God desires to lift the veil, revealing Himself as Lord and pouring out his resurrection life, bringing about the complete restoration of. We live here and now as citizens of that now and future Kingdom…announcing Jesus as Lord by our very lives.
He is not crouched behind a dimensional rock, hiding in wait for “someday”, either. He has given us His Spirit, so that we might actually be involved/freed here and now, to live in the way we will exist when the veil is lifted completely. He actually IS Immanuel – God With Us.
So how to communicate that to our 4 year old? No, actually, you don’t have to move Jesus across the room. But she’s not slow enough to think he’s physically standing right next to her, albeit invisibly. I suppose this is why we don’t depend upon one lesson, one moment of salvation, one explanation of Christ that forever exists in the mind of our children. For now, perhaps we’ll buy a wedding veil, and throw that over Jesus….