Wednesday, May 28, 2014
The Incarnational Gospel
One aspect of the Incarnation which fascinates me is how God, in human flesh, manifested Himself as a common, simple person born into humble circumstances who traveled the countryside telling stories.
Jesus was a storyteller. He was a creative personality. His stories were allegorical snapshots of what life inside the Kingdom of God was like.
Only one of his stories, which he called “Parables”, was ever actually explained to his disciples. All the rest he left up to interpretation and discovery.
The Parables of Jesus provoked thought and invited those who were curious to explore for themselves what the Kingdom of God was really all about. By internalizing the search for Truth contained in his stories, Jesus entrusted the human mind with the task of working it out in due time.
Jesus was comfortable with loose ends. He didn’t feel any anxiety over how many understood the parable. He knew that those who were truly hungry for real spiritual sustenance would discover what they were craving after in their own time.
There was an organic quality to the ministry and teaching of Jesus that appeals to me in ways that are deeper than I can even comprehend at a conscious level. He had ideas that were subversive to the status quo of the culture and he transmitted the code of this social rebellion through simple stories about farmers, widows, travelers, sons, fathers, and fields.
Jesus was comfortable with unanswered questions. In fact, I think that many of us who call ourselves his followers could learn something from adopting his style of asking questions and telling stories without getting hung up on the answers.
Too often we in the Church are too quick to provide answers to questions we’ve never been asked. That is a serious problem, in my mind. It paints us as people who are more concerned about results than we are about other human beings. We provide answers without taking the time to really listen to the questions being asked. Often we are answering the wrong questions.
For example, no one cares about your answer to spiritual poverty if you have yet to address the very real physical poverty all around you. When you show an indifference to the very real poverty that is easily detectable with the naked eye, it doesn’t paint you as someone who is particularly skilled at relieving poverty. Your poverty-relieving skills come into serious doubt.
Those who have yet to embrace Christ are skeptical of the slogan- “Jesus Loves You” when those who claim to be transformed by this love look and act just like everyone else.
It matters, then, who we are and what we do. Our reputation has become soiled. This is what makes the pursuit of personal Holiness and ethical behavior essential to the Christian life. Not just for our own personal need for sanctification, to be transformed into the image of Christ, but for the purpose of demonstrating that Jesus does indeed change lives and make us a new creation.
It shouldn’t take faith to believe that Jesus has the power to set us free. It should not take faith to accept that Jesus is capable of making us into better fathers and mothers and employees and citizens.
Our lives should serve as proof that Jesus is alive and transformation is possible.