A Personal God In An Impersonal World

hem of his garment

A Personal God In An Impersonal World

A while back my wife went to the bank to make a deposit. The teller told her after she had waited in line for several minutes; you know you should use the ATM instead of taking our time. We had four different accounts at the bank that we signed on. I went to another bank and asked them, “I want to open several accounts, but I have one question to ask first. Will it bother you if I come into your bank and stand in line and take up your time so that I can give you my money? I just want to know!”

Our world is very impersonal. We live in a very inhospitable world. Humanity has become cold and detached from each other. We have lost our sensitivity to our neighbor. We have become indifferent and unemotional toward mankind.

Call your utility company or any business and you will spend more time listening to a computer tell you that their menu has changed so listen closely than you will be talking to a real human. Our world is impersonal.

On a daily basis, you will get a call from a computer. It will tell you to stay on the line and wait for a very important call. The internet is set up for online shopping. It is designed so you will never have to leave your home for anything. We have lost the personal touch.

It is an impersonal world when women can scream for help while being raped or beaten. Nearby neighbors and passerby’s turn their heads. They shut their windows. They turn their music up louder. They don’t want to be involved. They want to remain detached and unemotional about the world around them.

As time passes, the spirit of the age in which we live becomes more and more impersonal. It becomes more and more detached and distant. However, in the midst of an impersonal world, we have a very personal God! He is a God that knows and loves each of us as individuals.

In John chapter one when Jesus first began to select His disciples, He called Philip. When Philip met Jesus, he was so excited that he went to tell a friend named Nathaniel all about Him. Nathaniel decided to come and meet Jesus for himself. Now, as he approaches, Jesus speaks to him before Nathaniel ever has a chance to say anything. What he says is so personal, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”

Only someone who knew him intimately could make that statement. It catches Nathaniel off guard, by surprise. He asks, “Whence knowest thou me?” Have we ever met? How do you know me?

So Jesus makes it even more personal. “Before Philip called you when you were under the fig tree, I saw you,” he said to Nathaniel. He was telling him I know you inside and out. I know all about you.

He is a personal God!

Jesus came down from teaching on the mountain and great multitudes followed Him. Suddenly the crowd which had been pressing against Him pulled back. At the feet of Jesus falls the ragged, tattered figure of a man.

His face is disfigured from the hideous disease that has ravaged his body. Rags are wrapped around his arms and hands to hide the effects of leprosy that was destroying him.

Looking at Jesus, he begins to worship Him saying, “Lord, if you wanted to you could heal me.”

Most people would have been repulsed at the sight of the man. They would have averted their gaze. Their stomachs would have heaved. The stench would have caused them to retreat as discretely as possible. The thought of physical contact would have been abhorrent and would never have taken place. There would have been no concern about the feelings of this man. They would not have worried the least if he would have been offended or hurt by their reaction and rejection.

Jesus, however, is a personal God in an impersonal world. The man has recognized that Jesus had the power to heal him. He has prostrated himself before Jesus, desperately hoping and believing for a second chance at life. Jesus isn’t repulsed or revolted by the man and his condition. He is moved with compassion for the man. He feels for this man deeply enough that he reaches out and touches him.

We have to ask ourselves the question, “How long had it been since someone had touched this man? How long had this man lived without a personal touch of another human being?”

Lepers could not live with their families. They were not allowed to live in the cities of Israel. Rather, they were cast out of the communities when they were diagnosed with leprosy. They left their homes, their jobs, their communities behind. They walked away from their families, friends and loved ones. They were destined to live the life of an outcast in the caves and hills that surrounded the towns.

When they approached people, they had to cry in a loud voice, “Unclean, unclean!” This allowed people to stay back or change their course of travel and not be exposed to this highly contagious disease.

One must wonder how long it had been since this man had received a pat on the back from a friend. You have to ask how long since he had received a hug from his parents. How many days and weeks, maybe months or years, since his child had run to meet him and jumped into his arms. How long had it been since his sweetheart had put her arms around him and kissed him telling him how handsome he was and that she loved him?

These are things that we experience on a daily basis. These are happenings in our everyday lives, so we often just expect them to always be there. This man had not enjoyed the feel of another person’s touch in a while.

We all need to be touched. A touch releases endorphins which are healing agents in our bloodstream. Medical doctors say that ten meaningful touches, showing value, a day can add two years to a person’s life.

He needed healing. He was a desperate man in a hopeless situation. A healing would have changed his life forever. Yet Jesus recognized this man needed more than just healing. This man needed a touch and being the personal God that He is, He touched Him! Then He healed Him!

When he came to Jesus, this man would have been elated to receive his healing, but Jesus said there is more than just healing that you need. You need to know that someone finds you to be important. You need the reassurance that someone loves you, despite your condition. So Jesus touched him.

The people were all around. People were pressing, calling, pulling, and shoving. Suddenly, Jesus stops and looks around and asks, “Who touched me?”

The disciples are bewildered at the question. People are touching him from every side. Everybody wants to get his attention. They are all there because they want to get close to Him. How can He ask, “Who touched me?”

The reply they get from Jesus is unexpected. He knows that someone with a special need has touched Him. He says they have been healed because He felt virtue leave His body. However, there is more that is needed and He needs to know who touched Him.

For twelve years this woman had a disease that caused her to be considered unclean. For twelve years she had suffered not only the effects of this disease, the weakness. But also, for twelve years she had also known shame, and the rejection, of being a castaway.

When she touched Jesus, she was immediately healed. Yet Jesus didn’t let her just walk away. He stopped her, had her tell her story, letting everyone in the crowd know that she was unclean. Then he announced to the world that she was not just healed but also restored.

Yes, he is a personal God even when the world is cold and detached. He was even personal to a jailer in a Philippian jail. He sent two preachers to preach a gospel message to him. He dispatched an earthquake to get his attention so he would realize that he was important to God. He is a personal God.

He was sitting on the curb of a well on a hot, dry afternoon when she walked up; thinking no one else would be there. She came thinking she was going to take care of a natural need. Yet Jesus saw that deep thirst that was in her heart and gave her what she needed to have that need met. A need she didn’t even realize that she had. He is an individual God. He is your own God, he belongs to you.

Our God is a personal God. He knows you as an individual. He is the God of the universe. In spite of that, he is your personal, individual God. He cares for your needs while he is caring for my needs. He is a personal individual God.

You don’t know me, but he knows me. If you had known me before I knew him, you would understand why I love him the way that I love him. Who am I that the great God of heaven would bleed and die for? Yet he did just that. He died just for me.

We know that he made the worlds. He made the earth. He made you and me. We know that there is great demand for his attention. We know that we can bring all of our cares to him and he will care. But the beautiful thing about God is that he is so personal he cares for the small things.

In September of 1999, after several months of terminal illness, my father passed away. We had spent weeks at his bedside. There were very few nights during that time when the phone didn’t ring calling us to his bedside. Not only were we physically exhausted, we were emotionally and spiritually exhausted also.

My father had pastored the church for 25 years and then had been Pastor Emeritus for the past 10 years. So the church was also exhausted.

A few weeks after his passing, my wife and I took a night off and went to the “big city” to spend the night and have a day of goofing off. That morning at the restaurant when I went to pay for my breakfast, someone had already paid for our meal. I was in a strange town. I didn’t see anyone I recognized.

While in town I took a gift back that I was unable to use. I received much more money than I thought I would. Initially, I was told I could not have my money back.

The day continued in the same manner. There were just a lot of little things that day that went right. Driving down the road that evening I realized that God had just used several small things, unimportant to anyone else, to let me know he cared. He is a personal God.

Several months later, on Fathers Day, I was in Mississippi. My wife and I were preaching a revival in a small church. I was sitting in my motel room that morning waiting for my wife to finish getting ready for church. Suddenly it dawned on me that I could not call my father and wish him a Happy Fathers Day.

For the first time in forty-three years, I would not be able to tell the most important man in my life how much I loved and appreciated him. It seemed like all of the emotions that I had dealt with flooded back to the surface and I began to weep. I felt lost and alone. Dad had been my friend and confidant. I could always call Dad and he would listen. I could always count on him to be there, but suddenly it had changed and reality had set in.

It was in this desolate lonely moment that God spoke to me. It was in this time of feeling so small and insignificant that God reached down and gave me that touch that I couldn’t get from my Dad. It was in that moment that God told me, “I am a personal God in an impersonal world and I love you!”

I have been dealing with a situation for a long period of time, several years. Important things in my life have not worked out the way I had hoped and prayed they would. There have been many times that I have called on God and asked, “Where are you in all of this?”

There have been times when I felt like Job, I see the evidence of God everywhere, but I can’t feel it for my self. You are blessing people all around me, but I can’t feel anything. I have given it my all, but my all hasn’t been good enough!

I was recently in a service where God spoke to me and told me, “I am working on you because I love you.”

It wasn’t just a thought or a feeling that went through my mind. I wasn’t just an impression that I had. It was a Word from the Lord sent by a special messenger, just for me. A man who didn’t know me from Adam, but he had a personal message just for me. You may be skeptical, but I know I serve a very personal God.

No matter what it is you might be dealing with. Whatever you might be feeling let me reassure you that God cares. If you are feeling rejection, He cares! If live has overwhelmed you, He cares! If you lie on your bed at night, afraid to close your eyes because of the pressures that are there, He cares!

He is a personal God in an impersonal world. He cares when no one else cares. In fact, Peter gives us this reassurance in I Peter 5:7, “Casting all your cares upon Him, for He careth for you.”

Take them to Jesus, He cares!


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