The Incarnation did not end when Jesus ascended from planet earth after his resurrection. He was only its beginning.
His work on the cross was to begin a new creation—where men and women become so transformed by his love that they reflect his glory in the world—God with us. Don’t just celebrate the first Incarnation without discovering how he wants to take shape in you today. Now, that’s how the world will know who God is because they see his character reflected in how you treat people around you. God still wants the word to be revealed in human flesh and continually seeks those who will allow his glory to grow in them and who will share it freely with anyone around them.
We can be ambassadors of his glory, a flock that draws eyes heavenward as our lives proclaim good news to the poor, freedom to those in captivity, healing to those broken by a fallen world, and justice for the oppressed. That was his mission, and he gave it to us. His hope for the church was to make her a living community of redeemed humanity sharing his love together in ways that people would behold the true nature of God. What we call church often falls so short of this invitation because, in the end, it attempts to encase God’s glory in human institutions, which cannot reflect it. They get caught in the same priorities all institutions do—conformity, money, and influence. It’s no wonder they are often known for indulgent leadership, division, gossip, and manipulation.
What Jesus calls the church, however, is something entirely different. She is his bride, and she is taking shape in people called out of every tribe, tongue, people, and nation who have chosen a narrower road of drawing close to him, listening to his heartbeat, and following him wherever he leads.
That’s why Paul writes:
All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence. Ephesians 1:20-23 (The Message)
It is not enough to believe in Christian doctrine or observe its rituals. We have the opportunity to live deeply in Christ and find the love and faith in him that transforms us into his image. As this new year starts, I am most excited by the growing hunger I see in young and old alike, people who are learning to love what God loves. They find their priorities shifting in ways not everyone around them appreciates, even some of their Christian friends and family. That’s why it’s a narrower road. It won’t appeal to the crowds who seek their comfort more than his glory. It is for those who cannot deny the ever-growing impulse in their heart to follow his invitation into a different way of living.
Here are seven attributes I see growing in people around me who are on this journey:
- They have an unrelenting pursuit to know what’s true, even when it challenges the broken places in their own life.
- They are playful in the Father’s love and tender toward others around them, even those they perceive to be their enemy.
- Finding their well-being in him, they do not need to manipulate others for their own gain.
- They are content with obscurity, finding a conversation way more fruitful than a seat on the stage or likes on their social media post.
- They are learning to interact with God throughout the day—not just praying to him but following his nudges as well.
- They find their confidence in God’s character, not by hoping he will change their circumstances for their desires.
- They are learning to rest in the Father’s work, coming alongside him rather than trusting in human effort.
In reading these, don’t think you can hear them and try to apply them to your life. They don’t work that way. These are fruits of a growing fullness in your own relationship with Jesus. Let that flourish and you’ll see these and other attributes growing from there. I write them here so that when you recognize them in you, lean into them even when it challenges your comfort. In the long run, you’ll find no greater joy than letting Jesus take shape in the person he created you to be.
Arise, shine, for Jesus wants his glory to shine in you.