When we think about mission in our world and our role in it, we naturally ask the question, “What should I do?”. But, before we answer that question, we should ask ourselves, “What did God do?”. Well, God has chosen to reveal Himself to His created people, and if you think about it, He simply could have communicated with them in a number of direct ways. He could have simply written some information in the sky, or thundered commands from heaven, sent some sort of cosmic global text message, but He chose not just to give us mere ‘Information’, but to give us the ‘Incarnation’. He gave us Jesus!
He most certainly gave us a message, but He also wrapped it in a person, He wrapped it in a relationship. John expresses it best, saying, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) At the same time this reality is both shocking and wonderful, in that the Glorious God would take on flesh as the person of Jesus who … “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:6–7) God humbled Himself and condescended to us, the ‘jaw dropping’ truth is that Jesus came down to earth for all of the people of the earth … but why?
DOWN TO EARTH FOR US AND OUR SALVATION
The early church Father Athanasius of Alexandria says it this way: “He became what we are so that he might make us what he is”. Others have said similar Incarnation-type statements – John Piper says, “Without abandoning any of what it means to be God, Jesus took on all that it means to be human”. And C.S. Lewis said, “The Son of God became a man so that men can become sons of God”. The author of Hebrews encourages us that the humanity of Jesus means He experiences and overcomes all that we go through. He writes
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15, ESV)
Jesus takes on flesh and victoriously takes on sin!
God chose in Jesus to reveal Himself through ‘flesh and blood’ and I believe He still gives the incarnational mission to His people (The Body Of Christ). By God’s design His truth flows through relationships. Author Dan Spader shares, “Jesus took on flesh to become like us so that He could identify with us in every way. And, ultimately, He came not to just initiate the relationship, but to continue that relationship by dying as the sacrificial Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world. And through His Spirit in us, that relationship can continue ever deeper and deeper”. God came down and lived the life we couldn’t and died the death we should have, so we can now live for Jesus’ ‘flesh and blood’ mission.
DOWN TO EARTH FOR OTHERS
We the redeemed people of God have been loved undeservedly because Jesus came down to earth for us! That’s what God did, but what should we do? How do we respond to the ‘incarnation’? John says, “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) How can we who have received and benefitted from the mission of Jesus not also join it? We should become ‘incarnational’ in the sense that we follow the example of Jesus by leaving our comfort and being on mission for Jesus where He leads us (Matthew 28:19-20).
DOWN TO EARTH ALL OVER THE EARTH
Ed Welch says, “God takes the initiative and moves toward us; we take the initiative toward others“. So being incarnational should be our life in Christ. Because God came down to earth to know me, now I become down to earth for Him and others (Philippians 2:3). The Apostle Paul took the incarnational example of Christ and went all over the earth with it. Paul says, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:15–17) Let’s follow the example of the ‘incarnation’ and be willing to join Jesus by being down to earth all over this earth.
Casting Crowns sings,
One day when Heaven was filled with His praises, One day when sin was as black as could be, Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin, Dwelt among men, my example is He, Word became flesh and the light shined among us, His glory revealed… Living, He loved me, Dying, He saved me, Buried, He carried my sins far away, Rising, He justified freely forever… Amen.
Pastor Andrew Edmonds