It was often thought that God was above us. The ancient Egyptians thought that God was the sun up in the sky. The Sumerians built temple-towers on their plains so that they could be nearer their gods. The ancient Greeks thought that the Gods lived on top of Mount Olympus which reached up into the clouds.
We still speak of God up above us today. The first person into space was a Russian called Yuri Gagarin. He reported back to earth that he couldn’t see God anywhere up there! It is obviously silly to take this picture literally, and yet it still has much to say to us, for when we think of God above us we are expressing God’s greatness and our own humility.
Christianity doesn’t deny God is high and mighty, but it is unique in that it also believes that God came down to our level – that he became a human being, Jesus Christ. That he understands, from the inside, what it is like to be human. One of the creeds even states that ‘he descended into hell;’ there is no level that God cannot penetrate.
So when we find ourselves in the depths of despair or sadness, when we are degraded by our own failures, or when we are just feeling low – then we are assured that God is there with us – within reach – closer to us than our own breathing, and that he can raise us up.
‘No one has ever seen God;’ writes St. John, ‘it is only the Son, he who is nearest to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.’ And he has made him known in the only terms we can understand: in human terms, as the man Jesus Christ. And Jesus has taught us that to be reconciled to God is to be caught up into ‘a love that will not let us go’.