Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Prodigal Christianity (3) Incarnational

Fitch and Holsclaw have been criticised for making the incarnation too broad. This could be right. The incarnation of Jesus was a unique event that is unrepeatable. The Holy Spirit working in the Body of Christ is also incredibly important, but I am not sure “incarnational” is the best word to hang it on. That said, they have something important to say.

They are concerned that the incarnation is presented as something that happened a long time ago, and does not have much relevance now.

In this view, it seems Jesus came to do only two things: prove his divinity and then die for our salvation.

When we are engaging those outside the church, this view of the incarnation often leads into defending the divinity of Christ and the truth of our future salvation. We spend a lot intellectual energy trying to make the case that Jesus is God and has saved us from hell.

In this process, we too easily made Jesus into a concept, a proposition to be upheld, or a truth to be defended.
A defensive posture to the incarnation is not helpful.
If the reality of God in Christ has truly entered our lives, then he needs no defending. We need only bear witness to the reality of his working in our lives.
The alternative view is that Jesus everyday life is a model for discipleship and that we can enter the Kingdom by following Jesus example. Fitch and Holsclaw see this as a useful emphasis, but are concerned that this view fails to recognise how radically God comes into our lives through the humanity of Jesus.
It fails to take hold of the way in which Jesus himself has promised to be present in his authority and reign whereever we go and engage in the kingdom.

God has won a victory in the sending of the Son. His power, rule and victory are a reality breaking in right now. Jesus is not merely a model of God’s Kingdom; rather Jesus is God’s kingdom coming. Thinking of Jesus as only the way into the Kingdom misses the point…

Devoid of God’s cosmic victory over sin, death and evil in Christ, the “way of Jesus” easily drifts into becoming another religious mentality, a moralistic social gospel that leads us not into his kingdom, but into burnout.
Listening to the alternatives,
It seems that Jesus is all too divine to be any good, (for our everyday lives) and also all too human to do anything (against the reality of evil). Neither option seems adequate to capture God’s radical movement into the world.

In essence, Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are the proclaiming and making present of the Kingdom of God.

This is what it looks like when God is at loose in the world, no longer contained in heaven—now teaching, confronting, healing, restoring, and making all things new. Jesus the Son of the Father, filled with the Spirit, is the proclamation and presence of the kingdom in power, overcoming the evils of bodily sickness, social exclusion, and spiritual oppression. This is what is happening in the incarnation.

Somehow, this central reality of God’s work in Christ has been lost in much of the North American church. But if we look closer at the Scriptures, we can see it everywhere.

There is a kingdom dynamic set loose in these disciples. Jesus promises that his very presence will be with us in all of these activities.

The incarnational model challenges us to be a people who inhabit neighbourhoods, go where the people are, live among them and listen to them, know their hurts and their hopes.
This is great stuff.

1 comment:

August said...

Perfection seeks to perfect the imperfect. Many would ask why He didn't just make us perfect, but I suspect it isn't possible. Not in the sense that He can't do it, but in the sense that what is perfect is one.
So, if you happen to want more conscious beings in your universe, you have to go with imperfect beings.