Friday, January 20, 2012

Pentecostal musings on incarnation, perfection and kingdom living.

We just finished the Xmas season (I try to use X because of the connection it has to the ancient church, X being the greek word for CHRIST). Xmas is a time for joy, happiness, love and hope, it's also a time of over indulgence and for some, great sadness. It's amazing to me the gambit of human emotions and behaviors we encounter in that one short period of time. For me the most powerful part of the Xmas season is the remembrance that God became human in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The early church fathers like the Cappadocians and Cyril of Alexander and others spent a great deal of time trying to understand and explain the nature of the God man, Jesus. To me it's become increasingly simplified over the years, much more simple that what my understanding or the orthodox understanding has been.

I have often wondered what Jesus thought of himself. Did Jesus really see himself as God? Or did he see himself as a prophet in the tradition of the great prophets of old? I don't doubt that there was something very special, extremely siginificant about Jesus. I don't doubt that in a very special way God was with him and in him and that his special relationship with God was the first of many special, communal and personal relationships with God that humankind was to have. For Jesus to consider himself God in his society would have been a very serious offense which would have contributed to his murder as it did. I think what Jesus demonstrates and what he means is that we all can be called of God, that we all can be children of God and that we all can be God incarnate.

Jesus recognized the divine in each of us, not that we are God, and that God is us, but that we are made in Gods image...that God dwells in us. This is a serious statement! To be made in ones image is to bear the ones name and authority, as in the father and son. The son ultimately held the position of the father when the father was absent. According to Genesis humanity has Gods image and Gods dominion over God's creation, we are God's stewards, a roll often occupied by a son.

Jesus' message was one of a kingdom, not an earthy kingdom and not a heavenly kingdom that is "to come" least not alone to come. The kingdom of God that Jesus preached was a kingdom full of God incarnates, i.e lovers, peace makers, wealth re-distributors, who if they followed the kingdom path would contribute to the establishment of a kingdom (society) in which there would be no poverty, no hunger, no violence, no hatred....NO DEATH! Thats right NO DEATH. Sure people will die, but they won't die; there won't be suffering, poverty, hunger, and oppression...the things that kill the human soul.

Jesus fully and completely embodies the Isaiah prophecies for the "capable ruler". One who will lead God's people into the fullness of salvation, which is a life of love, hope, peace, and justice for all. In this way Jesus shows us that we can all be...that we are all MESSIAH, the anointed ones of God. In Isaiah God show Gods call to be to all people when God used as MESSIAH Cyrus, king of Persia to deliver the people of God and return them to the promise land. The word used for Cyrus in Isaiah 45 is Messiah, anointed on of the LORD. The message is clear we can all, if we follow the way of Rabbi Jesus, be MESSIAH, be God incarnate in our broken world and bring about the Kingdom of God, a place without poverty, hunger, or violence...a place without DEATH! And how can we walk in the perfection and holiness of Rabbi Jesus...the same way he did. He was baptized and filled with the holy spirit.

In the Gospels is a story of Jesus and his baptism, both his water baptism as well as his Spirit baptism. Following these two events is Jesus' adoption by God to be the MESSIAH and his subsequent three year ministry as well as his arrest, false trial and state endorsed murder, events which transformed humanity. When we profess faith and are baptized, when we receive the baptism of the holy spirit, we too are adopted by God and God's image begins to be restored in us and we begin a life like Rabbi Jesus, as the second Adam...reborn as the Sons and Daughters of God, as God image bearers, as little God incarnates. All this is made possible because of the Holy Spirit.

I encourage you to fulfill your call as Gods image bearers and be God incarnate in your community and bring about a world with no poverty, hunger, illness, violence...a world with no more DEATH.

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