REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on August 6, 2014, is provided by Phillip Chen who is associate pastor at Kairos Christian Church in San Diego. Phil is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“A Close Look at Incarnational Ministry”
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
While many of us may understand incarnational ministry theologically, we don’t quite grasp it in real life. I would like to share an illustration that I found in a book that really helped me to understand it better.
Some Navy SEALs made their way to a compound where the hostages had been imprisoned for months. The hostages were curled up in a corner, terrified. The SEALs stood at the door and called to the prisoners, telling them they were Americans. They, then, asked the hostages to follow them, but no one moved. The prisoners just sat with their eyes close in fear, not believing that the rescuers were really Americans.
The SEALs stood there, not knowing what to do. They couldn’t possibly carry everybody out. Then, one of the SEALs put down his weapon, took off his helmet, and curled up tightly next to the other hostages, getting so close his body was touching some of theirs. He was trying to show them that he was one of them since none of the prison guards would have done this. He stayed there for a little while until some of the hostages started to look at him, finally meeting his eyes. Declaring their identity and intention once more, the Navy SEAL asked, “Will you follow us?” Once he stood to his feet and one of the hostages did the same, then another, until all of them were willing to go. The story ends with all the hostages safe on an American aircraft carrier.
What a beautiful depiction of the Word became flesh, that Christ would humble himself, taking on an infinitely lesser nature in human form so that we are able to trust him for saving us from the bondage of sin. No longer can anyone say that God is a distant God who doesn’t understand us, but we have a high priest who understands us, was tempted like us, but was perfect without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
Today, this same Jesus is looking to you; he graciously and gently invites you to tear down any remaining defense mechanisms, any walls of hostility, so that he may lead you to safety. Allow him to come near so that you may sense his love and care for you.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I am eternally grateful to You for taking on the flesh, not only to die vicariously for our sins but also to sympathize with our weaknesses. I know that I can go to You with utmost confidence, knowing that I will be heard and loved. Thanks. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicles 5
Lunch Break Study
Read Phil. 2:5-8 (ESV): “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
John 17:5: “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”
Questions to Consider
- This is a classic passage that clearly depicts the incarnation of Christ. What did Jesus give up by becoming a man?
- A key theological concept based on this passage is called kenosis (emptying of self), which is undergirded by two attitudes on the part of Christ. What are they?
- In what way can you demonstrate the incarnational attitude with someone in your life?
- Jesus gave up his glory he had with the Father “before the world existed.” He momentarily gave up equality with God the Father. That’s one reason why Jesus didn’t know the day or hour of His Second coming (Matt. 24:36).
- The two attitudes are humiliation (Jesus was humiliated) and condescension (Jesus was disdained).
- I think Romans 12:16 and 14:1 gives good examples of this: “Be willing to associate with people of low position”; “accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.”
Looking back, did you have an opportunity to demonstrate the incarnational spirit or attitude to anyone today? Reflect on it; pray for that person.