reload The Race by Maurice McCracken

Friday, July 20, 2007

Being incarnational...or not.

posted by Little Mo | Permalink |
So, the IFES world assembly is over and it is time for reflection. I'm not going to blog about every little thing that I learned, or take you through the detail of the conference: Andy has done an excellent live blog already.

I just want to share some of the many things I was challenged on and learned about when I was at World Assembly. And the first is "being incarnational". Incarnational is a bit of an evangelical (and especially an emergent) buzzword at the moment. Basically it is usually used to mean becoming like people before you try and tell the Gospel to them, as that is what Jesus did: demonstrating God's commitment to us by becoming like us. Sometimes it is even expressed in a more extreme form - that becoming like people, "incarnating with them" is in itself a way of sharing Jesus with them.

Well, I have lots of thoughts about being incarnational. For example, it is rather unfortunate in its effect of creating a "what would jesus do" approach to the Gospels rather than encouraging us to believe and trust the Jesus of the Gospels. I often wonder if it simply what the missionaries of yesteryear would have called "contexualisation"?

Anyway, a dear brother from France, Jacques Buchold, opened my eyes to the fact that the New Testament DOES indeed call us to model ourselves on Jesus' earthly ministry. In one particular way - facing rejection from people. Try 1 Peter for starters.

Typically, I'd managed to consider being incarnational with spectacles on that allowed me to look over that particular aspect of how we are called to be like Jesus. Of all the ways that Jesus models our ministry to us, that's the one the NT highlights, and the one I'd least like to follow.

I love being loved. But being like Jesus in the world, incarnating my Christian faith as God incarnated himself means facing up to rejection by people. To love the world enough to be hated by the world.

This was made all the more powerful by being surrounded by brothers and sisters who face rejection by family, friends and state because they incarnate their faith into a hostile culture. People whose marriages are secret, whose job is illegal, who can't even risk having their photo taken at an international conference. The lady who went to take the Gospel to a people group her family so despised that they would not speak to her or approve of her work.

Those people, after all the emergent blogosphere armchaor theologising about incarnational, those are the people who model Jesus ministry in the way he commands.


Blogger Scott said...

Wow. I had a chat to a student delegate from NZ last night, and he had very similar things to say about the power of meeting believers who have really had to suffer for their faith - following the example of Jesus as 1 Peter talks about. 'Example' I like, but I suspect getting incarnated is something only God can do, as we're already in the flesh. I guess Jesus' incarnated example gives us a model of suffering witness as we live in this current age: entrusting ourselves to a faithful Creator, and setting our hope on the grace to be given us when Christ is revealed. We pray that as the world looks on, our following Christ's example will point people to him and his cross-work. They will see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits.

4:31 PM  
Blogger étrangère said...

Cheers, Mo, for a helpful reflection. It certainly takes the veneer off 'being Jesus to people' - that phrase usually launches me into puzzled thinking, especially in the contexts in which it's heard, but that the phrase (though ill-advised) directs us more towards being despised and hated, as the world hated Jesus, is striking. The more I think on M.Buchhold's talk on following Jesus (or not following per se!) the more I think that the title of the conference was well chosen - in Christ, into the world. Not merely following Christ, into the world. Or copying Christ by going into the world. Not merely a matter of disciple following rabbi or prophet, but the identity change of being in Christ means that our ministry is incarnational by definition. The church is the body of Christ, in which his Spirit dwells... but I've got more to ponder so I'm going to stop there!

11:46 AM  

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