Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Living out the Incarnation - Part 2: Incarnation and Obedience

Of course, in all of our efforts to follow Jesus it helps if we remember a few things… perhaps most importantly that Jesus’ actions were based on obedience to the Father… this should always frame our thinking.

Our role is not to simply appear noble, fix the whole world, or seek out extreme situations for dramatic effect. Our role is to go where the Spirit leads us. We are finite creatures, we cannot do everything and shouldn’t try. Incarnation will not always be dramatic, renowned or require orchestral accompaniment. (See below)

(Do you reckon guy at 30 seconds just looks suspiciously happy? Please vote in the comments section)

Incarnation is not about looking good, it’s about looking up… to the Father.

(The above sentence is not my own, it’s from an upcoming worship album of duets penned and sung by Michael and Hannah Frost entitled: ‘2 2gether for Him’)

(Both of the above sentences were a joke… the Frosts are very classy people and wouldn’t stoop to this. But the sentence still stands)

The point isn’t how well our stories would play on a highlights reel but whether we gave of ourselves in obedience. To truly enter the story of a person or a community more often than not a slow, quiet process of building trust, showing love however we can. We can’t stoop to refusing to participate in things our church logo’s won’t fit on (too many double negatives I know, but it’s late and I can’t be stuffed reworking it… guess I’ll never feature in a quote book). In our zeal to ‘make a difference’ it’s all too easy to try to double up on ‘where the needs are’ and ‘where we’ll get noticed’… but we need to be hyper-aware of how easily this can compromise the integrity of our actions.

Stability matters, and if we’re going to make a difference with what we do today it’d pay if we were still there tomorrow. This is true for us as individuals but even more so as church communities. A colleague asked me the other day about what the most helpful thing we did for young people was when looking after a youth ministry. The best I could think of on the spot was love, dignity and stability. One of the most common traits of the young people at high risk was always instability… their lives were incredibly volatile, changing constantly. Us being there for them mattered, them knowing we’d still be there even if they left mattered just as much. Being a community of stability in an unstable world requires commitment, both to each other and to those we are called to.

The best way to create stability is to get a sense of where God is calling us and commit to it, rather than jumping at every opportunity that presents itself. Which is why both as individuals and communities we need to take the time to listen for God’s voice and be faithful to that, not running around like headless chickens but preparing communities that can sustain mission.

(A small caveat: I am incredibly uncomfortable with the idea that Incarnational Living paints us as noble, superior, pretentious pillocks sent out to sprinkle a little of our goodness amongst the great unwashed… I don’t see it this way and regret if it sounds like I do… will deal with this in an upcoming post, for the moment you’ll just have to trust me!)


(For more great use of Orchestral music please see:

(I’m sorry for the excessive use of brackets… it’s a weakness I am working on)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))


  1. Yes, he does look suspiciously happy.
    For: 1
    Against: 0

  2. Very suspiciously happy. I don't think wiping his face like that helps...

    As for our album - I think its a great idea. I'll talk to Hannah and we'll get the project started! haha.

    And seriously - very good thoughts Shane. We are often tempted towards doing 'good works' that will gain us the most attention/status/reputation. And often we justify that under wanting to improve the reputation of the church - what we really mean I think (albeit subconsciously), is improving our own reputation. To live in obedience to God means we are encouraged to (hopefully) leave these motivations behind...

  3. For: 3
    Against: 0
    Im not very good at puting my thoughts into writing and making any sense... so ill just say, very good thoughts Shane. and leave you with this...

  4. If we limited this to just people who were good at making sense it could be a very small discussion!

    Thanks for the vote =)

  5. It has to be a homoerotic thing, running in his undies with his mates.

    In any event, this is a really important blog post Shane. Too many of us get too excited about too many causes to do any one seemingly insignificant thing really well. Thanks for the reminder

  6. Hannah McAuley28 June 2011 at 09:33

    Love your thoughts Shane (and your humour of course!!)... it's really freeing to know that we don't have to try and be a part of every good work going on around us, but we simply need to do what we hear the Father asking us to do - i can do that!!

    PS: I heart brackets :))))))))))