Happy New Year! On the last Sabbath of 2017 we talked about what Jesus has always wanted for Christmas–a second incarnation accomplished not only in flesh, but in spirit and in truth.
The incarnation is the ultimate proof that God meets us where we are. We see God doing just that in John chapter 4 where Jesus, no longer a baby in a manger, but the full-grown God-man, meets a Samaritan woman right where she lived. Rewind to John 4.
Jesus’ ministry to this woman was incarnational in that He went to her instead of expecting her to come to Him. Incarnational ministry goes to where the people are. We can’t avoid “Samaria.” We must go through it. How else are they going to see God’s glory?
Jesus engaged the woman in conversation. He spoke with her not at her.
He knew the woman was living in sin, but He didn’t pounce in condemnation. Those who need the gospel most today can’t hear it above all the condemnation being spoken by Christians.
“The Lord wants His people to follow other methods than that of condemning wrong, even though the condemnation be just. He wants us to do something more than to hurl at our adversaries charges that only drive them further from the truth. The work which Christ came to do in our world was not to erect barriers and constantly thrust upon the people the fact that they were wrong.” (6T, 121)
Incarnational ministry is not a ministry of condemnation. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17).
Then in 4:19, when the woman asked Jesus where God was to be worshipped, Jesus announced the arrival of the next great revelation of God. “A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (Vss. 23-24)
From then on, God’s presence was not to be defined geographically, but spiritually. The time had come for the old ways of relating to God to pass away and the new way to begin. Without being on a mountain or in the temple in Jerusalem, the woman was encountering God directly, face-to-face. Jacob’s well had become the house of God because Jesus was there! Temples of stone were giving way to temples of flesh, and those temples are you and me. The second incarnation of Christ happens in you and me by the Holy Spirit!
When we think of the church, we need a paradigm shift. The Renton church is not located only at 1031 Monroe. We are all the church, so everywhere we go, the Renton church goes, too. That means Renton has a main campus headquarters with 266 satellite “locations” all over the greater Seattle area! That’s more than the number of Starbucks in Seattle (104)!
But coffee makes a bigger impact than the church because Starbucks is open every day. If we’re going to be incarnational and make an impact, the body of Christ must be open and operating every day, not just on Sabbath between 9 and noon. Our 266 satellites must meet the people where they are and speak the language of the times every day to make a difference and help them worship God in spirit and truth. Otherwise the salt has lost its savor and it is good for nothing.
The church in the first century A.D. had no buildings. People got together in homes, shared a meal, prayed together, took care of one another’s needs, told the new story of Jesus, and grew daily. (See Acts 2:42-47.) Church wasn’t an event, it was life. The Holy Spirit filled the believers and the message was validated by signs and wonders. The church had power.
Through the Holy Spirit Jesus would be in every believer and would continue His ministry on earth. And that’s why in this new year, we must pray for the daily baptism of the Holy Spirit as never before. Through 1) Personal ministry, 2) prayer, 3) persuasion, and 4) the love of God, the word can become flesh again. (See Ministry of Healing, p. 143.)
This must be our priority as a church in 2018. We can uphold truth and love at the same time. Jesus did it, and so must we. How? “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord” Zech. 4:6.
The new year is here. Let’s commit to living it in the Spirit and in truth. –Pastor Randy