Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Formed by Scripture--Part 1

Over the next few days I am going to take a few moments to share a few verses that have formed and shaped me as a disciple and as a minister. I am like most Christ-followers in that we have been formed by all different facets of Scripture--the prophets, the psalms, the historical books, the books of the law, wisdom literature, the gospels, Paul's letters, Acts, Revelation, and the other epistles.
However, all of us have the "door-frame verses"--the verses that have been stamped on our hearts. The verses that won't let us go. The verses that have helped to reframe the world for us.
So, with that said, over the next few days I am going to share a few of my own.

"The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)

"The Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood." (The Message)

This verse is at the very center of how I think about preaching and ministry. In God's humility, he became flesh and lived among people. In Paul's words, "He emptied himself." This form of giving up power is at the heart of Jesus' character. He went from being surrounded by the hosts of heaven to being surrounded by withered hands, leprous disesases, sinful behavior, and faithless religious leaders. He didn't visit earth during the day and ascend into the heavens during the night. He became like us.
He lived in a way that welcomed people into his glorious presence. He was fully present.
To step into the presence of Jesus was to step into the presence of love and compassion.

This verse has something powerful to say to the church. Too often church leaders can sit around tables praying and discussing who the "target audience" needs to be: "Who should we reach out to?" "Who are we going to pour our time into?"
However, to take John 1:14 seriously, church leaders need to stand on the front porches, look around the neighborhood, and claim what they see as the harvest that is plentiful. Become the presence of Christ right where you are. Be the "Word" that becomes flesh and lives among people.

PS--this verse was the driving force behind the article I wrote for New Wineskins.


Rick Ross said...

That is also one of my favorites. What humbles me is that He still wants to make His dwelling among "us" (the world) by living in me.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for reminding me that Jesus dwelt among the people (neighborhood).

Thinks like computers and other devices are wonderful things, but they keep us indoors instead of out in the neighborhood where we belong.

phil said...

What a great testimony your article was! Never lose that passion for service, and keep on interlocking heaven's principles here on this earth!