Incarnational Reality

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There is a theme in freedom that it must be declared before it is achieved. American’s celebrate July 4 as Independence day but is it actually when our  forefathers declared independence which did not come until the Treaty of Paris in 1783 and after a great cost was paid between those points in time.

When Moses tells Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, he is essentially declaring their independence but there’s all sorts of activity that occurs before they are actually free from Egyptian rule.  And after freedom from Egypt is obtained, there is so much more they go through to learn how to live free.  It was easy to understand what it would be like to be free from Egypt but not so easy to know what it would be like to be free to serve God as His people – forty years in the wilderness and then all that effort to secure the promised land, which never really fully occurred.

The Israelites were told by God to celebrate a ritual every 50 years called Jubilee. It was a year for freedom where each person was to set slaves free, to free their brothers and sisters from any debts, to return to the freedom to God alone and his economy – but they never celebrated Jubilee.

Jesus walked into his home-town church near the beginning of his ministry and reads from the prophet Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

then after reading this, he tells them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”. He is literally declaring Jubilee and the response of his nearest friends and neighbors who had known him all his life is rejection – to the point of not only driving him out of town, but also trying to throw him off a cliff. Wow!  Freedom is an explosive topic.

It is strange though – that Jesus, who has the power to secure instantly the freedom he wants only declares it.  Why is this? When the American forefathers declared independence, they invited all Americans into the drama to gain freedom.  Jesus invites us into the drama to gain freedom too – not from an external power but to his internal reality in our lives.

In believing that his spirit has become one with our own and living in pursuit of this incarnational reality, we also find the freedom from seeming external realities.  We can’t control our world externally but the freedom Jesus brings cannot be taken away if we don’t allow it.  It is treasure where moth and rust do not destroy, not in heaven only, but in our hearts where the King of Heaven already resides for those who’ve allowed him in.

This is all nice to say but hard to do.  Every moment here, our humanity, our world and God’s enemies try to point us to the scenes around us as evidence of the futility of loving God and others.   David said in the Psalm – speaking of Jesus prophetically:

You were forged a strong scepter by God of Zion;
now rule, though surrounded by enemies! Psalms 110:2 Message

When Jesus makes us free, we are free indeed!  It is not just a declaration.  It is real freedom – we are truly like him, sons and daughters of God, princes and princesses.  We get confused and think this must mean later since we are still being told we are slaves because we are still surrounded by enemies. But who we are is not dictated by where we are.  We need to learn to ignore the temporary things of this world and keep our eyes on the son of God indwelling our life.   We, with him, are noble children of the King of all kings, God Most High.  So what if we are surrounded by enemies. We are free!

  • Do you believe you are really FREE?  If you don’t, whose voice are you listening to?
  • Can you see that Christianity is more about our NOBLE Identity than the cheap religious substitute of morality?
  • If you aren’t free, who are you enslaved to?  Who can stand against God?
  • Consider writing your own declaration of independence in agreement with Jesus.

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You likely understand the concept of a paradigm shift.  This is when you think the world is one way, perhaps frustrated by the woman at the grocery store who seems irresponsibly unwilling to control her kids, but then instantly see it is a different way when you address her and find she just received news from her doctor that she is dying of breast cancer.   Suddenly, it’s all about compassion and understanding rather than frustration – we suddenly remember to be kinder than necessary because everyone we meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Our faith walk is often like this too.  As we grow closer to God, he teaches us more and more about the reality of his presence in our life.  At some point, for us to see him more clearly, other things that stand in the way must become subordinate to him and this reality.  Often, this process creates a paradigm shift in our mind.  Oddly, we then often tend to think we comprehend all there is to know about God.  This is where we should be concerned because our beliefs become religion.  This was the problem the Pharisee’s had.  They believed they comprehended God and chose their religious point of view over the Godly view that Jesus tried to share with them.

Sooner or later, God tends to call us to separate our religion from faith in him.  We sometimes call this a crisis of faith but in reality, it is usually a crisis of imagination.  We’ve so focused our mind on our past belief that we can’t imagine God to be bigger than that – even though we’d logically argue that God is bigger than everything.  We don’t have a frame of reference for this new thing so God is having to renew our mind, so he can transform our life again.

A few days ago, a friend of mine on Facebook wrote this status:

Christ Followers: Has the fact really sunk in yet that the God of the Universe, Jesus Christ, actually lives INSIDE YOU?!

What a great status!  Sadly, only a few people responded to him and most responded with references of a political nature.  It was a bit understandable because this friend does focus and connect with those who focus on politics – but still, the response was completely off topic – and is such a miniscule point of value compared to the reality of Christ in you, the hope of glory – Col 1:27.

What about you, dear reader?  Do you really comprehend the incredible reality that Jesus Christ, the son of God, the risen Lord – lives INSIDE YOU – as your very and only LIFE!!?  Is that a radical concept to you?  Did you know that the King James New Testament includes 76 scripture references of the phrase “IN CHRIST” and many more with expressions such as “Christ in You”.  We tend to read over it as if it means “WITH CHRIST” or as just meaning “believer in Christ” but a study of this will reveal that St. Paul and St. John clearly express the idea of INCARNATIONAL REALITY – that just as Jesus became man, the risen Christ lives on incarnate in the believer.  Here is a brief sampling:

  • I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Gal 2:20
  • According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Eph 1:4
  • Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  John 3:3-6
  • Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 1 Cor 3:16
  • I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:5
  • But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: John 1:12
  • But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 1 Cor 6:17
  • For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. Eph 5:30
  • For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.“
  • Rom 8:15
  • Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. – Col 3:11
  • Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! – 2 Cor 5:17
  • Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Col 3:1-4

Surely, it is amazing that God sent his son for us, that he walked among us, that he died to pay for our sins, that he broke the gates of hell open and defeated death to live again.  But this is not all that he did.  In fact, he did all that to have the right to purchase us back and offer to exchange our broken life for his perfect, eternal life.  That is what it means to be a Christian – to give up our old life in exchange for his new life.

So, if Christ is your very life, your ONLY life – what does that mean for you? Here’s some thoughts to meditate on:

  1. Can anything take Christ’s life from you?
  2. Is there anything that you can do that would change your true life – the life of Christ in you?
  3. Can you really add to or subtract from the value of that life?
  4. How does God see you if Christ is your very life?
  5. How much of Christ is available to you?
  6. How does this change your interaction with everyone around you? with God?
  7. When, if ever, can you be separated from Him or do something without him?  What does the answer to this question mean?

Thanks for reading.  I hope you will take the time to meditate on what it means to have Christ as your life.  If this is a new concept for you, I hope God will create a paradigm shift for you so you can say with St. Paul, “But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me…” Gal 1:15-16a Please subscribe and share your thoughts or experiences of viewing Christ as your life with me.

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