by Bob Whitesel (excerpted from ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church, Abingdon Press, 2011, pp. 121-137)
I is for “Incarnation”
Latin: in (into)- + carn- (flesh) + -ation (to become, to transform)[i]
Incarnation describes how God sent his Son Jesus to earth “in the flesh” or “in person” (John 1:14, Col. 2:9) in lieu of sending a surrogate (such as an angel) or just speaking through a prophet as he had done in Old Testament times. Scholar N. T. Wright says that this incarnation “…implies that God wants to make his presence felt around the place, and he may well want to do so especially where people are trying to run things their own way and making a mess of it.”[ii]
The incarnation is an important subject for it reminds us that God is a “missionary God,”[iii] coming to humanity to restore fellowship between himself and his offspring. Though there are many attributes to God’s incarnation there are four aspects on which we shall focus:
- God went himself to earth. He did not send a surrogate. (John 1:14, Msg.).
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son .
- God in the form of Jesus came to explain himself to us in a personal manner, with face-to-face dialogue (John 14:6-7, Msg.)
Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You’ve even seen him!”
- God wishes the result of this encounter to be a reconnection of people to God (2 Cor. 5:18-19, Msg.)
All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins.
- God wishes his followers to participate in his mission and tell others about his offer of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:20, Msg.)
God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.
The following sections compare how modern and millennial leaders differ in their approaches to telling others about God’s mission.
3 Perils of Modern Leadership Regarding: “Incarnation”
|Modern Leadership||Millennial Leadership|
|Send others.||Go in person.|
|Teaching is one-sided and directive.||Teach and be taught.|
|Gathering is an “attractional” event.||Gathering is a supernatural encounter.|
DOWNLOAD the chapter here >>> ORGANIX Chpt. 7 INCARNATION Pg121-138
[i] Carlton T. Lewis, Latin Dictionary (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 112.
[ii] N. T. Wright, Incarnation and Establishment, sermon, (Durham, UK: Cathedral Church of Christ, Dec. 25, 2008).
[iii] David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in the Theology of Mission (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 19910, p. 390.