The past few weeks I have been focused on getting back into shape. Every other day I have been walking 5 miles around our town. This not only allows me to get my body into shape, it also allows me some time to think, pray, and meditate. As I was walking the other day God spoke to me in an usual way. When God speaks to me it is usually in quite unorthodox ways. He usually speaks to me through the medium of music. It does not matter the genre, he will usually speak to me through a particular song. My musical taste is quite varied. I have been involved in music since I was 9 years old so my musical taste is quite eclectic. I have over 13,000 songs on my iPod. I have everything from Beethoven to Boston and Bob Dillon to Brad Paisley. On the days I walk, I shuffle through my music based on my mood that day. This particular day, I was listening to one of my favorite groups, Kansas. As I was listening to the song No One Together, God spoke to me. No One Together talks about how as people we have missed the boat on what it means to live and be human. We strive in vain to get ahead, but we always find ourselves right back where we started. I began to see that this is exactly what is happening in the Church (Western).
We think some how we have cornered the market on what it means to be a church and a Christian that we do not see that we are a fragmented people. We are too busy “playing” church and are not “being” the church. The church in the west has been blessed beyond measure and the “horn of plenty is bursting at the seam” and we are no better for it. We are not unified around a common mission and purpose. We are so focused on our“own” little kingdom that we do not realize that “the harvest of the world will be our prize”
The church in China is expected to reach 247 million within the next decade. The church in India is still growing at a rapid pace. We sit and scratch our heads and wonder how this is possible. How can this be? We think we know all the answers. We claim to have God figured out. We think we can predict his next move. “We claim to know the secrets, the answers have been found, but how can one fool make another wise?” We cannot predict God’s movement any more than we can predict the weather. We need to get back to the basics. We need to unite around the “God of Mission” and find out where he is working and join him there.
The western church has portrayed Jesus a type of spiritual “Superman” that came to rescue us from our sins. I believe this is a distorted view of what Christ came to do. The history of the incarnation and the struggle that the early Church Fathers had over this issue seemed to divide them on how to describe the incarnation. Some believed that Jesus’ divinity and humanity were separate and never affected the other. Others believed that they kind of worked together as if Jesus was like Superman. His humanity was like Clark Kent and His Divinity was that of a super hero. The way we view the incarnation will have a great influence on how we approach life and ministry.
A proper view of the incarnation will allow us to share that Jesus not only came to give us a “gift”, but also to be there “for us”. The incarnation will allow us to share with our community the true hope that Jesus offers. By God choosing to come “in the flesh”, we have a Savior who understands us. He will be there when we need Him. If we act as if God is this great benefactor that does great things for us, we will have a skewed perspective of what God is trying to do in our lives. God is not just “doing things” for us. God is “for” us.
The history of the incarnation plays a vital role in helping us understand who Jesus is. It helps us to see that Jesus is more than just a person to call on in times of trouble. He is God in the flesh. He is a person who understands us. We can truly say that Jesus “gets me”. He knows my thoughts, my needs, and my dreams. He is not just a problem solver. When we understand the incarnation, then we can see the power of the cross-revealed. We see a God who came in the flesh to show us how to live, how to die to our sins, and how to be raised to walk in His righteousness. The incarnation transcends cultural boundaries. Students want to be understood. They are looking for a place to belong. They want someone to understand them and identify with their struggles. We can help them see that the incarnate Christ is that person. If we become an extension of Christ’s life, we can impact this generation in a mighty way. By investing our lives in students, just a Christ invested in the disciples, we will see much change.
In John 1, we see that “Jesus dwelt among us”. He became a part of the culture. He was “one of us”. We must have the same mindset. Paul encourages us in Philippians 2:5-11 to have the same attitude as Christ, which means we must live out the Gospel before the people that we have been entrusted with. The Holy Spirit allows us to be the “incarnate” representative of Christ on earth. We will have the same spirit and mind of Christ if we tap into the power and guidance that the Holy Spirit offers.
We must keep the BIG picture in mind. We have to put people before programs. We cannot underestimate the power of presence. Just being available and listening to students share the successes and failures in their life; we will make a great impact. Remember, we are a model of relational ministry. We need to be real and authentic with those we come in contact with. Jesus was able to do this very well. His disciples saw Him in His full glory on the Mount of Transfiguration and in His brokenness in the Garden of Gethsemane. Authenticity is really at the heart of the incarnation. When Jesus was baptized and the Father spoke His affirmation over His son by saying, “in whom I am well pleased”, we see who Jesus really was. His divine nature and human nature were transparent for all to see. All we have to do is look. His miracles testified to his deity while his sorrow and brokenness in the Garden displayed His humanity.
Incarnational Ministry is what every believer is called to. We are the body of Christ. We are an extension of His saving grace. We must be willing to step outside of our comfort zone, and “dwell” with those who need to experience the incarnate.The church must be unified in its approach as it becomes the “salt and light” in the community. We have a reputation of being a people who cannot get along with others. We have been stereotyped as “difficult people”. We must be a “No One Together” people but an “Everyone Together” people on mission!!!
Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLG0CGQVhRI to listen to No One Together by Kansas