Sunday, April 1, 2012

I'm a Words Girl

Scott and I attended a church conference in Austin the last week of February.  The conference covered a plethora of topics, but the underlining theme is how to live a missional life and how to create a church that is on mission together.  Honestly, Scott REALLY wanted me to go because he thought I would understand where he is coming from when we have discussions about what discipleship should look like.  I have felt for months that he was minimizing the experience I had at our church early in our marriage.  Our Bible study, my mentor, and my friends had the biggest impact thus far on my spiritual journey.  Scott, on the other hand, has had a change of heart on how discipleship could be accomplished in a different way.  So here I sat amongst hundreds of men and dozens of women listening to what was being said, and I had a negative reaction to one single word.  I write the word on my notepad and ask Scott what they mean.  I sit...think...fume...then as soon as I can, I ask Scott, our friends, and pastor if I am totally off base.  (They nod their supportive heads and tell me they understand what I am saying, and when THIS word is mentioned for 2 days they chuckle at how annoyed I am!)

You might be asking yourself what is this word that has me in such an uproar?  The word is incarnational!  How can this wonderful word be so irritating to me?

The speakers told us to be incarnational.  Scott's best explanation as to what they mean is, "That we are to go into the world and share the gospel."  Ummm OK I get that.  I agree with that, but shouldn't we use a different word?  Incarnational means something entirely different to me.  It is a beautiful word that says with just 5 syllables that Jesus loves us with such fervor that He was willing to leave paradise in order to live amongst us and share the TRUTH with us and through His death He completed the ultimate sacrifice for us, mere sinners.

Incarnation according to Merriam-Webster is:
  • a (1): the embodiment of a deity or spirit in some earthly form (2)capitalized: the union of divinity with humanity in Jesus Christ b: a concrete or actual form of a quality or concept; especially: a person showing a trait or typical character to a marked degree <she is the incarnation of goodness>
  • the act of incarnating : the state of being incarnate
  • a particular physical form or state : version <in another incarnation he might be a first vice-president
I think I am most bothered that we are taking this amazing word and changing the meaning...somehow lessening its true meaning.  Its life-changing, life-saving meaning.  I absolutely believe that as believers we are commanded to take the gospel to the ends of the earth!  God's Word leaves little room to wiggle out of this truth.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit"  Matthew 28:19

"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation."  Mark 16:15

"but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."  Acts 1:8

An important truth for a believer to understand and apply that truth to their daily life is the concept of going, sharing, telling, and discipling.  It isn't something we can pass off to the few who are passionate and "gifted" in teaching.  That isn't how it works biblically, nor will we be able to accomplish the Christ given command with the "elect" few.  So many Christians sit on the sidelines and pat the backs of the few who are taking the gospel to the lost, hurting, and the forgotten.  So do I believe that believers are supposed to go and share the gospel?  ABSOLUTELY!  Do I believe that we should apply the word incarnational to mere humans?  NOPE!  I don't.  (Scott thinks I am a words person and I get hung up on words...maybe he is right...OK I am sure he is right.  Regardless, I don't want anyone to describe me as incarnational.)

We are entering the week of remembrance of God's provision for us.  He provided the ultimate sacrifice for our sins so that we might stand righteous before Him.  We think about Christ's death...the pain...the agony...the rejection.  We celebrate and give thanks that Jesus did not remain dead, but rose again and stands beside His Father.  We take a week to reflect on the AWESOMENESS of God and how much He, in fact, does love us.  What Jesus did for you and for me... that is totally different than what I do when I minister to the homeless.  What we do when we live our life missionally, or living our life with the intention of serving those we encounter and sharing the gospel is beautiful and obedient.  But, I am not choosing to leave Heaven and the Heavenly Father to be me.  I am trying to be an obedient child of God.  I do not want to put my puny efforts on the same page as the incarnation of Christ.  I just don't! 

With my arms stretched to the heavens I give thanks to the Messiah!  Thank you Jesus for loving me.  Thank you Jesus for mercy, grace, and truth.  Thank you my Savior for being incarnational!