Imagine with me that you are riding a bus…a normal city transit bus. Wait with me at the bus stop. Watch for your bus to arrive. And when it stops climb aboard with me.
You look around for a seat, scanning the faces of those who boarded ahead of you. You don’t recognize anyone. You try not to make eye contact with anyone. You have no connection to anyone other than the fact that you happen to be on the same bus. You are not all going to the same destination. Many will get off at stops along the way.
You have mild anxiety about whether you will encounter any strange people on the bus. So, keeping yourself to yourself, and holding your stuff close in to you, you sit down and look straight ahead.
You may be WITH the other people on that bus, but it is a WITH that means absolutely nothing.
The only thing that brings you together is the fact that you all “happened” to get on the same bus. It likely will never happen again.
The Bible uses a Greek word to describe this kind of being “with” people and it is the word, “sun,” pronounced “soon.”
Now, I want you to imagine yourself on a very different bus ride. This bus is an NFL team bus on its way to the airport and a season-winning or season-ending game.
When you climb on this bus, with your shoulder pads and gear in a duffel bag in hand, you recognize everyone…your Quarterback, your Offensive line, your star Running Backs. You are smiling, engaging them all and high-fiving them on your way to your seat.
You make eye contact with everyone. So excited to see them. You have connection to everyone on this bus. You depend on each other to play their position on the team. You have everything in common with the people on the bus. It’s football.
The environment on this bus is completely different than the community transit bus.
No one is getting off this bus anywhere along the way…they would never miss playing in this critical game.
The only anxiety you have up to this point in the story is that no one has seen the Head Coach yet. Without him there is…
…no game strategy for that day.
…no player assignments for that day.
…no individual or corporate guidance.
After a while the bus stops, the door opens, and The Head Coach steps on the bus to the cheers of everyone present.
Now the team is ready for the all-important game because the coach is “with” them.
The Bible uses a totally different Greek word to describe God being “with” us, like the Head coach is on the bus with the team, and it is the word, “meta,” pronounced just like it sounds.
It is unfortunate that when we read the English word, “with,” in our Bibles it is not immediately clear which “with” it means…”with” the random people on the Metro Bus or “with” the team and coach on the NFL Bus going to play a season-defining game.
All through Scripture, when God has called and is empowering His people, the Scripture uses the word, “meta” to assure us that He is with us.
He is with us…
…to make us His people.
…to lead into kingdom purposes.
…to instill vision for our lives together.
…to provide strategy for each day.
…to give us our individual assignments.
…to plan the day.
…to guide us.
…to coach us.
…to draw us and keep us together.
The living God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit with us…not just in theory, not just a theology, but more real than a Head Coach getting on the bus.