God with Us in the Incarnational Christian Community
(Final Part of a Four-Part Series)
Jesus, the literal “God with Us” (or "Emmanuel") in the flesh, has revealed God to us by his life, death, and resurrection. Paul tells us that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15); John was in awe of this, saying, “no one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known” (John 1:18).
That is Emmanuel! God with us! He walked with those 1st Century disciples, teaching them, doing miracles, showing love and compassion. He died sacrificially for the sins of the world. He resurrected and ascended, assuring them of a new life in Him.
But here we are in the 21st Century, far removed from that time and place. Sure, God was with them, but is God with us?
Jesus told his disciples that they would receive “another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17). God the Son and God the Father sent God the Holy Spirit into our lives to indwell us with “the Spirit of truth.”
Jesus was the incarnation of God—making God known. He was “the truth” in person. If that is the case, and if his "Spirit of truth" indwells today's "body of Christ," then the Church is today’s incarnation of God—meant to make God known in the same way. An Emmanuel Apologetic is the authentic display of the incarnation of God in the flesh—the Holy Spirit indwelling his people today.
“Truth” is not merely some reasoned argument, “Truth,” according to the Bible, is embodied in the flesh—it is only “Truth” when it is incarnate. Jesus was the “Truth” because he was there in front of them, in the flesh, making God known. Today’s local Christian faith communities display “Truth” not in merely having rational arguments, but by yielding to the Holy Spirit and authentically making God known.
And today’s local Christian faith communities must live out this truth in anticipation of the next phase of Emmanuel (see the previous post in this series.) Our community experience of love, worship, and service is to provide a preview of what Eternity will look like—the time when the fullness of “God With Us” will be finally experienced. In our eternal future as believers, we are told in Revelation 21:3 that God will be with his people. Today's church is the incarnational and eschatological People of God.
Whereas modern Christian apologetics sought to renounce non-Christian worldviews, religions, and ideas by way of rational argument, an Emmanuel Apologetic seeks to live as the incarnation of God to the people around us, creating anticipation for what it will be like in fullness to have God with us, so that they can genuinely say of this Christian community, “That is God with us.”
The enfleshed God in his people is what proves the credibility and believability of Jesus Christ. It is the Emmanuel Apologetic.
technorati: emerging church, spiritual formation, apologetics
Part 1: Apologetics Beyond Reason
Part 2: Apologetics Beyond Individualism
Part 3: The God Who Is Increasingly With Us