I heard a speaker say recently, “I have no interest in theology that is not incarnational.” In other words, they don’t want to hear big thoughts on God that cannot be lived out in the little moments of today.
He then began to tell a story of a person who his friend was working with who faced years of abuse and has multiple personality disorder. His friend was a noted author and professor who has written big ideas about God but was willing to bring those to practice in this one darkly troubled life.
Last week, the whole country was moved by the gracious mercy and forgiveness shown by Brandt Jean towards Amber Guyger, the person who shot and killed his brother. Jean noted the forgiveness and mercy shown to him by Christ as reason for him to show the same to the one person he would have every right to not show forgiveness and mercy to.
Recently, I have been struck by the encounters of the resurrected Jesus and his followers. I was struck just by how ordinary and real they were.
Here is the only person who has truly defeated death and he looks so ordinary to be mistaken for a gardener. Another time, he is just walking along a road and another time he is just a guy on a beach telling fishermen how to do their job.
There were no more miracles, except the whole reappearing and disappearing thing, done on the other side of Jesus’ death. But there was relationship, there was deep understanding, there was love, there was restoration, there was consecration of food and conversation. Seems rather ordinary for someone who just rose from the dead. But is it really that ordinary?
Mary’s deep, sobbing grief was turned to elation. Thomas’ skepticism was turned to faith. Cleopas’ broken heart was warmed, and Peter’s life and ministry was restored despite his rejection and betrayal of Jesus. The settings were ordinary but the results were nothing short of a miracle.
Jesus’ concern was not to perform tricks or to spout off doctrinal statements but to touch people right where they were. The obvious truth was Jesus was the son of God who through the power of the resurrection had defeated the sin and death that went after him with such precision and force. He had bore the weight of sin’s curse so we wouldn’t have to. Out of those great truths, he fed his friends breakfast, restored their doubts, and renewed relationships.
None of what Jesus accomplished on the cross and through his resurrection means anything unless individual lives are changed and futures transformed. That is theology that is truly incarnational.