A series of statuettes went on sale a number of years ago under the theme, “Jesus is my coach.” In that series, Jesus is shown helping children in various sports. The images are warm, personal, and very supportive, as if Jesus stands beside us to encourage us in whatever we do. (See below.) Although Jesus’ presence is not specifically about helping us swing a bat more effectively, these images are at least not thematically wrong, just incomplete.
Biblically speaking, it is the Holy Spirit of God who remains our guide and encourager, not about our specific rebounding skills, but in ways that assist us in living a full and Godly life:
- “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).
Still, there is much more to God than His immanence:
- “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
- “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8).
- “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor?” (Romans 11:34).
- “Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?” (Job 11:7).
- “Christ is the radiance of the Father’s glory and the exact representation of His nature, and He upholds all things by the Word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3).
God exists as both immanent AND transcendent, near and far. He knew us before we were born, stitched each of us together, initiated our beating heart, and died for us because of His great love for us. The Bible calls Jesus, Immanuel, which literally means “God WITH us.” In addition, He also transcends human beings in every conceivable way and to a limitless degree. He set the stars and planets in motion, and Revelation 19:16 calls him “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
For each of us, the challenge remains to hold God’s immanence and transcendence in proper balance. Too much of the immanence of Christ, and we risk reducing God to our buddy, our pal, and one who understand that we want to sleep instead of going to church or to “worship” on the lake while fishing. Over emphasis on God’s immanence risks our trying to mold God into what we want, our standards, and our desires.
The transcendence of God should cause us to fall to our knees before the awesomeness of God. We become aware of God’s omnipotence, the ultimate source of morality and wisdom, the creator and sustainer of all. However, if we overemphasize God’s supreme greatness, we risk feeling small, insignificant, invisible, and so thoroughly “other” compared to God’s glory.
God exists both near and far, loving and personally encouraging, as well as immeasurably powerful and grand. God’s immanence reminds us His deep and abiding care for each of us while His transcendence reminds us that He alone is worthy of our worship and reverence. To hold both in proper balance is to experience the fullness of God.
The great Christian writer, C.S. Lewis, summed up God’s immanence and transcendence:
- “God is ‘absolute being’—or rather the Absolute Being—in the sense that He alone exists in His own right…a man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a prisoner can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell.”
- “Though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not…He died not for one person, but for each person. If there had been only one person made, He would have done no less.”