“All manmade religion stands in opposition to the gospel. It is an ascent toward the eternal, perfect God. Up, up – that is its call. God is high above, we are down below; and now we shall soar by means of our moral, spiritual, and religious endeavors out of the earthly, human depths into the divine heights.”
—Emil Brunner

Divine heights– yes, that’s where most of us want to be: that sphere of bliss where all is well and pure and good and holy, where all that burdens and weighs us down is lifted. Isn’t this what religion and spirituality are all about: finding God and our eternal destiny above and beyond the prison of fleeting time and suffering? Don’t we all long to be grasped by the infinite, the absolute, the perfect – to gaze upon the true, the good, the beautiful, ­unhindered in peace and glory?

We may indeed ache for paradise. But the gospel, the good news in Christ, is that God lives somewhere else. The true and living God, the one in whom we live and move and have our being, dwells and reigns in the dark depths of our existence, here and now.

The greatness of God’s majesty is not in the realm of the eternal. God is Immanuel, “God with us,” and even more: he is one of us! The Word became flesh, and in the flesh God’s glory is revealed (John 1:14). Such glory, in its incomprehensible smallness, is too much for us to handle. As the apostle John writes, his own neither recognized nor received him.