31/10/2018: Make incarnation your model for loving well | Troy Rist

Make incarnation your model for loving well:
– An Emotionally healthy church is one where the church members are intentionally following the model of Jesus
– The focus is on loving well, and that loving well is a mark of spiritual maturity.
– The three dynamics of incarnational living: 1) entering another’s world; 2) holding on to yourself; 3) hanging between two worlds.
Understanding the difficulty of Incarnation living:
– Unless we completely enter into another’s world and love them, we will not adequately portray the message of Jesus.
– The gospel has an amazing way of breaking into our worlds and reshaping it, but unless we attempt to enter other people’s worlds, the gospel will only every remain on the periphery for them.
– The Bishop of Caesarea in the fourth century said: “annunciations are frequent, and incarnations are rare”.

Seeing Jesus’ love as incarnation:
– The incarnation, or the mystery of the incarnation, helps us to truly understand discipleship,
– John 1:14: “The Word became human flesh and made his dwelling among us”.
– God knows we need to see some skin, his physical presence, in the form of Jesus.
– The Church is called the body of Christ so that God can still be seen, touched and heard. We are called, through the presence of his Holy Spirit in us, to be the skin for all people.

Easier said than done:
– It’s easier to say you are a Christian, than to actually be a Christian.
– Incarnational living calls us to a level of relationship with one another which we may think is almost too difficult to pursue.
– Write down the names of those you are currently incarnating with. Is the list long or short? Does this show incarnational living is easy or difficult?

Conflict between the Contemporary Church and Incarnational Ministry:
– We need to explore the difference between ‘activity’ and ‘relationship’.
– Perhaps we need not be so focussed on ‘activities’ as a measure of whether we are getting Christ’s work done, but rather on delighting in people because they are created by God
– We need to redefine the voice in our head that says successfulness is based on being busy, and instead listen to the voice of God which says successfulness is based on the work Christ has already done.
The Dynamics of Incarnational Living: 1) Entering Another’s World.
– If we are to enter into another person’s world, then we need to learn to listen without agendas.
– We need to listen with the sole purpose of gaining complete understanding of the other person’s world (empathy).
– Incarnational listening.
– Master questions askers: the right questions lead you to a deeper understanding.
Listening Test:
1) I make a great effort to enter other people’s experience of life.
2) I do not presume to know what the other person is trying to communicate.
3) My close friends would say I listen more than I speak.
4) When people are angry with me, I am able to listen to their side without getting upset.
5) People share freely with me because they know I listen well.
6) I listen not only to what people say but also for their nonverbal cues, body language, tone of voice, and the like.
7) I give people my undivided attention when they are talking to me.
8) I am able to reflect back and validate another person’s feelings with empathy.
9) I am aware of my primary defensive mechanisms when I am under stress, such as placating, blaming, problem-solving prematurely, or becoming distracted.
10) I am aware of how the family in which I was raised has influenced my present listening style.
11) I ask for clarification when I am not clear on something another person is saying rather than attempt to fill the blanks.
12) I never assume something, especially negative, unless it is clearly stated by the person speaking.
13) I ask questions when listening rather than mind-read or make assumptions.
14) I don’t interrupt or listen for openings to get my point across when another is speaking.
15) I am aware when I am listening of my own personal “hot buttons” that cause me to get angry, upset, fearful, or nervous.
12 or more = outstanding; 8-11 = very good; 5-7 = good; 4 or fewer = poor.
The Dynamics of Incarnational Living: 2) Holding onto yourself.
– When Jesus entered into our world by clothing himself in humanity, he did not lose hold of himself. He remained fully God while also being fully human.
– John 13:3 says that even though Jesus was washing his disciples’ feet he still “knew that the father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.”
– Matthew 5:13 : You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

The Dynamics of Incarnational Living: 3) Hanging between two worlds.
– A mature spirituality will produce the fruit of being an incarnational presence to another person.
– When Jesus died on the cross he was hanging between two worlds: Heaven and Earth.
– In a word, incarnational living is ‘messy’.
– incarnate. It will cost us time, energy, disrupt our current worlds, and make things ‘messy’.
– When we incarnate we hang between our own world, and the world of another person’s.
Setting Your Priority on Loving Well:
– Setting ones focus on making incarnation a priority may disrupt the church’s priority and definition of success, and it will definitely disrupt ours.
– It changes the focus from doing more activities, from trying to fix people, from trying to change the world into something that we think glorifies God, to instead being about ‘loving well’.
– The apostle Paul: an example of loving well.
– Love well by making incarnational your model for living.