“Don’t desecrate the land in which you live. I live here, too—I, God, live in the same neighborhood with the People of Israel.” Numbers 35:34 (MSG)
When I was a kid my universe was the 3100 block of Madison Avenue. There were a number of kids on our block and every summer evening was spent outside playing various games of tag, ball or make-believe. We knew who lived in every house on our block on both sides of the street. We knew which neighbors were friendly and which were mean. We knew the yards to avoid because the grumpy old lady who lived there would yell at you if she caught you in her yard. We knew which houses you definitely wanted to visit when you were selling candy to raise money for Little League because the kind old couple would always buy whatever you were selling.
Reading today’s chapter, I was struck by the way God described Himself for Moses and the gang. He was a neighbor. He lived in the neighborhood. He was not the God who existed remotely in a distant heaven, but the God who lived next door and was affected by local events just like everyone else. Jesus took the concept a step further when He said, “when you’ve done it to the least of these [neighbors], you’ve done it to me.”
Today, I’m thankful for a God who does not exist in remote distance that I cannot reach, but God who is near and chose to dwell in the neighborhood. I’m quite sure He would welcome us to play kickball in His yard.