God has been speaking to our team more and more about the incarnation.
Jesus was God, in created form. He was incarnated. He was God on earth, and his mission was to bring God on earth. “Your Kingdom come, as it is in heaven.” Jesus was bringing the kingdom by being here, first by being the Kingdom, and second by creating it in others.
Now there is really a lot to this if you think about it. The direction of movement is from heaven to earth. God is bringing something to be real here on the earth. Jesus was heaven arriving here and setting itself up in the earth. “The Kingdom of God is here” he says throughout his ministry. Heaven has come here to earth through the arrival of Jesus.
People are healed: heaven is here on earth. People are set free from bondage: heaven is here on earth. The presence of God breaks into dead human flesh – heaven is here on earth! The presence of God inside of you is nothing less than the Garden of Eden being restored. Perfect fellowship and communion with God, the glory of things being according to the created order.
Now, when you take it a step farther, you see that not only was Jesus the incarnation, but the Bible teaches us that Jesus comes to live in you. He becomes the incarnation inside of you. You are the presence of God on the earth, pushing outward everywhere you go. According to John 20:21 “As the father sent me, so I send you.” You are your mission is to bring the Kingdom down by being the incarnation. You are to fill the whole earth.
This is an incredibly powerful idea that I would like to put a fresh spin on. For most of the 20th century a large part of the church was trying to get off of the earth. We were focused on getting saved and going to heaven. Then, near the end of the century, a movement sometimes called the “Dominion” or “Kingdom Now” movement came along and corrected that. The only problem was that this movement led to very earthly ideas about what the coming of the Kingdom would look like. In some ways you could say it was an over-correction. I have wrestled with these two extremes for a while, trying to forge a path where my Spirit could really resonate, and as we have sought the Lord, this idea of the incarnation has become larger and larger for me.
The incarnation is nothing less that bringing the presence of God to the earth, everywhere – so that the glory of God covers the earth, as the waters cover the sea. It is not primarily about the governments of men – those governments exist because of the absence of God’s presence. It is primarily about God having intense intimacy with his people, here in the temporal created realm. The Kingdom is coming, and it is shaking everything of this world, but the Kingdom is not of or like this world. Look all around the world, anywhere you go, and you will find this Kingdom coming. As time moves forward, the peoples of the earth are getting a hold of God in deeper and deeper ways, more and more of them. His Kingdom is coming!
The fullness of what this means, however, has not fully permeated our understanding and expression of Pentecostal Christianity, however. As Charismatics and Pentecostals, we know how rich and amazing heaven can be, and so we seek to go there. We seek to have tangible unity with God through the Holy Spirit. We have developed a diverse vocabulary to discuss the things of the Spirit. We have learned to think and talk in the terms of the Spirit. And as good as this is, there is a fundamental problem with it: we have not learned how to bring the Spirit here to the earth. Talking about how the Spirit operates is fascinating, but what matters is if we can bring God here to the earth. This is where He wants to be, dwelling among men. He is hungry for it. As Charismatics and Pentecostals we need to rethink everything we do and think in light of this single question: how does it help us bring God here to the earth?
That re-centers things a bit doesn’t it? Let’s take a look at the prophetic ministry as an example. Prophecy is essentially looking into the realm of the Spirit and speaking something to someone from that realm. Charismatics love to do this. The only problem is that when we do it, we rarely actually translate the Spiritual into the natural. We simply speak the spiritual. What do I mean by this? Well I might see evangelism over your life, and so I say something to you like “God has called you to be an evangelist to the nations.” Now that’s interesting, and good that I brought this Spiritual idea to earth by at least saying it, but it’s really not practical. It is not close enough to the daily realities you are actually in. To do that, you would really need to address a whole series of much more practical questions like:
- What would it take for you to actually become this kind of evangelist?
- What would you have to change?
- What would you need to learn?
- Why aren’t you an evangelist already?
These are ‘incarnational” questions. If you can address questions like this, then you can bring the spiritual idea of “evangelist” to actually exist here on the earth in a very real person. Do you see what I am saying? The purpose of prophecy is not to excite or simply speak – it is to bring something that only existed in the Spirit realm into being here in the earthly realm. And the closer your prophetic word comes to doing that, the more you are really advancing the Kingdom.
In fact, the hyper way that we tend to give prophecies tends to actually prevent them from coming to pass. By telling me that I am an evangelist to the nations, you are getting me all puffed up about my calling when what was really on God’s heart was me developing my evangelistic capabilities: something very real and very practical. Hyping me up may prevent me from doing the hard work it is going to take to become that evangelist. I have met more than one backslidden Christian running around telling me that they were prophesied to see massive numbers of people come to Christ. As if some magic were going to make that happen. This kind of magic is attractive to us because it requires no investment or work. Simply speaking it is enough. I have news for you, speaking it is never enough.
Our entire worldview of Spirit-filled Christianity needs to have a massive shift in this direction. We want to stand in deep deep places in God, but not just because they are amazing, but we want to learn how to bring those deep places back here to the natural realm. We will literally bring the glory of heaven here to the earth. This is the awesome thing that God has commanded.