Living just a few miles from former President Jimmy Carter’s home in Plains, I hear quite a bit about him and have enjoyed the pleasure of seeing and talking with him on occasion. I am impressed with his high degree of accessibility to “common” folks. He builds houses shoulder to shoulder with “ordinary” people and invites hundreds to his Sunday School class.
Yet, even with Mr. Carter, there is a sense of distance. He lives surrounded by heavy security. The street in front of his house is closed to the public. A fence, gate, and guards keep people from wandering onto his property. Only a privileged few may knock on his door. And he is limited in his ability to walk among the ordinary crowd on a downtown sidewalk.
This is no complaint! The security is certainly understandable. One with such a high profile makes a tempting target for evil men. One in such a position is too important to leave at risk.
All of which makes a simple fact about Jesus the Christ all the more remarkable. The one who was “God with us” (Matthew 1:23) “made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). God moved in next door. He ate at the diner on the corner and worked at the construction site with the rest of the crew. He was one of us.
Why? Wasn’t there great risk in that? Yes. Wasn’t that somewhat beneath his station? Yes. But he did it anyway.
Why did God stoop to live in our neighborhood? One reason was so he would be able, having experienced life like we do, to “sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15). Another was so that he, having endured temptation, would be “able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). Also, he lived like us, so that he might “by his death destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil-- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14).
Would you be surprised if President Carter moved in next door to you? Would you be honored if he invited you to visit his home? How much more amazed we should be that God came to live among us! How much more honored we should be that he invited us, not just to visit, but to move into his home with him – forever!