I once heard some well intended folk talking about incarnational mission. Their intention was to be with the poor, identifying with their need and sharing the life of Christ in themselves. There is some merit in this. But it misses the truth of spirit and life - and the reality that in the power of the Spirit we can multiply healing the sick, casting out demons and raising the dead.
Jesus is more than a principle. He is the same Jesus who healed folks and cast out demons in Palestine. Nothing has changed. Christ in us, Christ as us, Christ multiplying what He began through us is the difference between religion and the Kingdom. Sure, it’s good to be kind. It’s better to do things that could only happen because Jesus did them!
In Jesus is life and that life is the light of all. All that is alive and free of the hallows of death is found in Jesus. Not only is He life but He is the resurrection of all that is sallow and dead. He is spirit and life. There’s a reason why healing and miracles are scarce in some Christian cultures. We can do much more for the world of un-belief when we live in the power of Jesus instead of the impotence of Adam.
Jesus was out to bring all humanity into the freshness of the infinite life if God. Nevertheless where there were those whose attraction to the mystery of iniquity was greater then the mystery of Godliness He said, ‘Let the dead bury their dead.’ People choose death because they have been lied to. Because they have been deceived. Because they are obstinate and because they are tied to gods of their own. With some these gods are their money and possessions. With others their gods are their ideas, their mind-sets and their religious assumptions. Those whose god is religion are in the deepest deception because they have made godliness out of themselves and their identity. But we have one Father who is God, one Husband who is Christ and one Spirit who binds us to Jesus and each other by the One Spirit.
Religion is the attempt to fill the absence of God with something of ourselves. This can range from the worship of stone idols, the worship of materialism and wealth, the worship of doctrines and institutions that we imagine confer on us some importance with men and some purchase with God. More subtle in a church setting is our labour in the flesh and the attempt to simulate the life and presence of God with human effort.
In the middle ages huge cathedrals were built that hoped to created a sense of God. But God was not in the building or in the soaring architecture. He was in Himself and those who believed in His name. In this age God lives in you. He came in the Spirit at Pentecost. The feature of this age is Christ multiplied. Christ multiplied in all who believe because He has come in the flesh. He lives in you. Someone astutely observed that praise and worship in this age can have the same purpose as soaring architecture did in the middle ages. When it is done to create a sense of His presence it is a fail. When done to honour what already is, it is empowering. He is I AM. He is Himself. He lives in us and with us.
Incarnation can receive lip service when the law is seen to be separate from God and a thing in itself. Incarnation is a shadow of itself when law is imagined as outside us, when Jesus is thought to be outside us and we have the added burden of ‘keeping close to Jesus.’ It sounds so pious. But it is the ultimate and most subtle legalism. The dumbing down of the new and living way to old and dead old covenant suppositions. Here we are likely to see Jesus nearby in the futile project of helping our self-effort to get the law into us. The fleshly Believer strives incessantly to subdue his flesh. The spiritual man rests in peace. The Christ within lives in His flesh, subdues his flesh and ignites it with Spirit and life.
Here’s the good news of the real gospel. Jesus is the law of the spirit of life. He is righteousness and life. He is with us and in us. This is Christ come in our flesh - the difference between wannabe gospels and the gospel of the Kingdom in you. Any change in our living comes from this fact - not from an attempt to align ourselves with externalities. If law keeping had any real benefit law-keepers would not have put Jesus on the cross.
Today He is not found in things we do. He is found in who we are – the daughters and sons who host His presence. This is not to ruin anyone’s joy in praise and worship services. Just saying that He is here because of nothing we do. He is here because He came at Pentecost and has not gone away. He has come in your flesh. He is incarnate in your being. And you as a son are the manifest presence of our Father.
Anything that is not Jesus is iniquity. Iniquity is the multiplication of death in any form. Iniquity is the most insidious when promoted as religion because what is represented as god has the opposite effect. It denies life. A sad prostitution of the gospel of the Kingdom is the attempt to manufacture godliness by holding out the prize of heaven. Forget the dubious motive. This ploy has no power to transform our lives. But more appalling than this is the attempt to evoke righteousness and stiffen our resistance to evil with the fear of hell. Such a ploy is as far from the Kingdom as Sydney is form Perth and betrays a parlous and entirely religious, ‘worksy’ mode of existence that is bankrupt of life.
There is a way. There is one way and it is the new and living way. It is Christ your life, Christ in you and His person, light and glory transfused into your being on a day to day basis. This heaven has come to earth because you are here!