incarnation trumps segregation

[INCARNATIONAL SERIES part 4]Segregation2_3
   

The Bible urges us away from living a segregated, inward life of faith.  The Bible itself is the loving, outward revelation of a God who wants his created-ones to respond to him in kind.  God breathed the words of Scripture in order to draw us to him and to teach us to love others the way he does.1   Scripture accomplishes such lofty aims because it is based on the Word of God made incarnate.  The Word (logos) of God is the Good News (evangelion) of the world.2    Scripture points to the Word who became flesh and made his dwelling among us3 so that we could be saved from segregation and brought into communion with God.  If "spirituality" and "life" are ultimately combined in Jesus, in everything he did and said, then how can we comfortably practice a disconnect between our "spirituality" and our regular everyday interaction with others?
    The Bible urges people to reach outside of themselves- living lives immersed in relationship with God and in fellowship with others.   Those who follow Jesus are encouraged to reflect the character and action of Jesus, who reached out in love. The biblical testimony is that God desires for people to move from a focus on “self” to a focus on “other.”   And we learn that as individuals join together in the image of Jesus, the Church acts as the Body of Christ, the representative and ambassadorial community of the God who was sent to earth to seek and save the lost.
    John, who knew very personally the expression of God’s love embodied through Jesus, reveals the astonishing reality of the Incarnation by emphasizing the unequaled position and identity of Jesus in paradox with his astounding cohabitation with us in our raw context.  Wow.  Big sentence.  Unpacked that means that God made his dwelling with us.  God tabernacled with us.  God camped with us.  He went on a hike, pitched a tent next to a stream, rolled out his sleeping bag, made smores, told stories by the fire… with us.  Jesus, the Logos of God, who is from all eternity with God, was God.  He created everything there ever was or is.  Life itself was in him and that life was the inextinguishable light then humans need.4   
    The fact that Jesus, whose given name means “God saves”, came in human flesh implies a fusion of what humans have typically perceived as a segregation of secular and spiritual worlds, material and immaterial.  God appeared not as a spirit, but as a real man made of real flesh  so that he could reveal God to those who had been made in flesh.5  Jesus came to share life, light, grace, truth, glory and even God himself.6  

1  2 Timothy 3:16-17
2  John 1; Luke 2:10-11
3  John 1:14
4  John 1:1-5
5  “There is this amazing assertion that ‘the Word became flesh’ (1:14).  Such an affirmation would amaze and refute all Hellenistic philosophical and Gnostic dualisms that separated God from his world.  Even Philo, with his Jewish background of a creating God, conceives of God as utterly transcendent.  God gave birth to an original world of ideas; but the Logos, here a second derived deity, begotten by God in eternity, fashions the visible world.  John wishes to emphasize that it was God himself in the Word who entered human history, not as a phantom, but as a real man of flesh.” (Ladd, George Eldon.  A Theology of the New Testament: Revised Edition. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993, 278)
6  John 1:4-5,14,18.  See Ladd, 278.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks Paul! The “church” as others see it sometimes becomes the life of a pastor. It can be the life of many people who give a lot of their time to the “church” as an institution/club. The difficulty I have is in moving people from the institution towards the identity — without losing myself in the process. Blogging really helps me stay disciplined to incarnate… or incorporate… real church with real life. Thanks for the encouragement! Merry Christmas my friend!

  2. I have to say, Ken, that these last few posts have been difficult to read; that living a unified life is more the exception than the rule.
    One area that I have been reflecting on for some time now, and have experienced more recently, is how difficult this disconnect can be for pastors formally serving in churches. The irony is that the very people investing the most (at least we tend to think this way) in our spiritual lives (Ie. pastors) are the ones who have the least time to reach out to their neighbors and even their own families! In your diagram in a recent post with the two circles it seems that some pastors live for “church” and don’t seem to have a “life”!
    In a sense then, pastors do indeed sacrifice, just as a shepherd would, to protect, teach, train, deliver, lead and guide those who they have the privilege of serving week in and week out. I don’t know how many people in our congregations know the weight of this…probably not enough.
    Ken, as you continue to share, express, live and teach your theology through formal and informal times I know that you are having life-changing and life-shaping influence in many peoples’ lives. As you know already, we don’t often see the fruit of our labour for some time.
    Your vision and passion for young adults in Calgary is infectious and your love for Jesus will only fuel that desire to see first hand the teeter-totter begin to lean in peoples’ lives from a segregated life to a more unified one.
    Take care buddy! And Merry Christmas and stuff…
    -paulz

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