[INCARNATIONAL SERIES part 15]
The spiritually damaging duality caused by an attractional model of Church can only be repaired by an embrace of the amazing paradox of the Incarnation. That Jesus is both God and man suggests that we can practice a life that is both physical and divine. A.W. Tozer suggested that Jesus “knew no divided life” for in His Incarnation he “never performed a non-sacred act.”1 The Church, Tozer contended, “must practice living to the glory of God… by talking it over with God often in our prayers, by recalling it in our minds frequently as we move about among men.” If we live wholly, not inwardly, privately or compartmentally as the Church, then “a sense of its wondrous meaning will begin to take hold of us.2 The old painful duality will go down before a restful unity of life. The knowledge that we are all God’s, that He has received all and rejected nothing, will unify our inner lives and make everything sacred to us.”
As we learned from the witness of Scripture and the personal experience of Augustine, the incarnational identity of the Church “implies a sending impulse rather than an attractional one.”3 The Church becomes understood then as the people sent into the world, just as Jesus was sent, in order to draw others to God. The Church becomes practiced then as a continual movement of believers into the geographies of neighbors and nations catalyzed by a devotion to God in response to the incarnate act of love upon their lives. It is for this reason that Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch have affirmed that “the Incarnation is an absolutely fundamental doctrine, not just as an irreducible part of the Christian confession, but also as a theological prism through which we view our entire missional task in the world.”4 Because of the Incarnation, in fact, Frost and Hirsch believe that the church should learn “to be living, eating, and working closely with its surrounding community, developing strong links between Christians and not-yet Christians… by creating a net of deep, loving friendship, more and more people will be swept into the community.”5
At the Hub, it is imperative that we continually teach the Incarnation and its implications for us as a community of followers of Jesus. We must not be satisfied with counting attendance numbers at our weekly gatherings. We must instead equip one our community to prioritize our witness the rest of week, wherever we go. Our Hub gatherings are meant, then, only as a re-routing spot where we network with God and one another, encouraging the community in its efforts to serve God and others in the movement of our lives. The Hub is intended to continually gather and then mutually send out believers into our cultural contexts, to make our dwelling among others,6 in order to reveal Jesus to others through the fusion of Christ’s love and our every action (see diagram).
1 Tozer, 119-120.
2 Tozer, 122.
3 Frost, Michael and Alan Hirsch. The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st Century Church. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2003. Also Hirsch, Alan. The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2006, 39
4 Ibid., 35
5 ibid., 57
6 Frost and Hirsch suggest that the Incarnation involved identification with us and a locality among us (Ibid., 36) and that “Incarnational mission implies a real and abiding incarnational presence among a group of people.” (Ibid., 39)