Christmas is the time when we celebrate the incarnation of Jesus, that the "The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood”! In my time in church over the years I have heard a lot about things like crucifixion, resurrection, salvation, even sanctification – but I rarely heard the word incarnation mentioned, let alone had what it meant unpacked for me or been told why it was significant in my life as a Christian in the 21st Century.
However, recently it is a principle and practice that is coming into vogue again at the cutting edge of Western Christianity, as the Church grapples with the way it is losing touch and traction with the vast majority of the population, especially emerging generations. A lot of that has to do with the fact that, as we as Christians are struggling to engage with the world around us, we are finally coming to a place of rediscovering the way in which God Himself engaged with our world.
One of my personal experiences in this has been with a family that live on my street. The family is made up of three boys between the ages of 12 and 16 and their grandfather. Their grandfather has raised the three boys as their mother was a heroin addict and their father has an intellectual disability and is unable to care for them. Over a number of years I have built a friendship with them and spent time kicking the footy, chatting in the back shed, eating meals, helping with schoolwork, praying with them, advocating for them and just generally hanging out.
Late last year the significance and impact of being in their lives was brought home to me in an incredibly powerful way when my wife overheard the eldest boy having a conversation with a number of peers at a camp we had brought them along to. He responded to being asked how he knew us by simply saying, “Sam is like my dad, and Cherie (my wife) is like my mum!” These boys are more than just people who have been part of a church program or that I have ‘ministered to’, they have become my family and I have the privilege of being used to welcome them into God’s family! All because I was able to move into their neighbourhood and dwell with them.
We are called to become like Jesus, not just in what we do at certain times but who we being all the time. Incarnation is the blueprint of discipleship! Becoming like Jesus isn’t about attending church on a Sunday, surrounding ourselves with Christian friends and living a sanitized version of the lives of the people in the world around us! It is living in our community, in our world the way Jesus lived when He came into the world! It is in living lives compelled and empowered by the Holy Spirit to bring outworkings of Gods purpose to redeem and restore back to His plan the neighbours, streets, schools, workplaces, and landscapes of our world.
If we understand Jesus became flesh and moved into the neighbourhood to redeem everything and restore everything back to God’s plan we can’t separate our lives from Sunday to Monday – must see all we are and everything around us transformed by His coming!
Director, SURRENDER Australia