Does God live in a Mansion or Mobile Unit? Isaiah 57:15 says:
"For this is what the high and lofty One says, He who lives forever, whose name is holy: 'I live in a high and holy place but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.'"
Note how God simultaneously occupies two completely divergent spaces.
Space 1: A Place that is Holy
God lives in a High and Holy Place. Certainly that place is grand, majestic, and 'other' to what we daily experience. Theologians refer to this as God's Transcendence. He is not like us. He is "Holy, Holy, Holy," as Isaiah 6:1-8 says. This is the only three-fold description of God in the Bible: Holy, Holy, Holy. The moral purity of His being might slay us if we ever caught a glimpse of it.
So, God lives in a place of splendid Holiness – and this should prompt our deepest longings to be holy, as God is holy. This orientation toward holiness is the normal life of everyone redeemed by Jesus. It isn't reserved for other-worldly saints. Why do I say this? Because the Bible says it:
"Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be Holy, because I am Holy.'" 1 Peter 1:15, Leviticus 11:44-45
"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be Holy; without Holiness no one will see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14
Where there is no longing for personal holiness, there is scant evidence of genuine rebirth into God's Kingdom.
So first of all, God resides in a high and holy place, because He is holy and transcendent. But surprisingly ...
Space 2: A Person who is Contrite
God also chooses to dwell in a second space, a mobile unit, if you will:
"I live ... also with him who is Contrite and Lowly in spirit."
The holy, transcendent, majestic God of the universe is a road-warrior. He doesn't simply wait at home for us to come to Him; He comes to us. (This is shown in the Gospel of John – 41 references to Jesus being sent to us). God seeks out a special kind of person to dwell with: the Contrite and Lowly. It's as if God goes road-tripping in His RV (Righteous Vehicle) to be with those followers of His who are contrite and lowly.
But what does Contrite mean? To be Contrite means you own your proclivity toward sin and unholiness, to the end that your spirit is crushed. Crushed. Yes, crushed is a perfect synonym for contrite.
Which begs a question: is my heart crushed before a holy God? To the extent we see God as Holy and ourselves as broken, proud, and stubbornly resistant ... to that extent we will feel crushed or contrite. And to be crushed and contrite is to immediately know the presence of God, dwelling with us.
So, we are called to be holy, but in our failures we are crushed ... which opens the door to experience the nearness of our Holy God. Amazing.
Let me end with a summary chart I tweaked from Nancy Leigh (DeMoss) Wolgemuth's talk on the "Proud vs Humble Person." May it be a diagnostic tool for your heart, as it is for mine. I suggest reading the rows from left to right, then later reading down each column. In which column do you find yourself, today?