One of my favorite movies is 'Nacho Libre.'Its the only movie in which ive memorized the lines! In it, Jack Black plays a monk turned wrestler and falls in love with a nun called 'Incarnacio', the Spanish word for 'Incarnation.'This is the theological term for Jesus becoming human. It means 'to take on flesh.'Incarnacio is an image of beauty and purity, intended to be an icon of 'God in the flesh' herself. The irony is that she is hidden away in a monastery, isolated from her world. Nacho, on the other hand, though fat and clumsy engages his world with great courage, for a great cause and to great effect.
This past weekend Brenden preached a compelling message on 'Loving Christ's world' as part of our "Love-Re -Imagined" series. His appeal was for the church to be morally distinct from, yet relationally engaged with their culture. We cannot be monastic in order to remain untainted by the world.
Paul says it like this."I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people - not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and the swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you'd have to leave this world." (1 Cor 5:9-11)
Holiness is not absence from the world. It is remaining distinct, while engaged with the world. Jesus, the sinless friend of sinners is our model. Leaving the culture of heaven and embracing fully the culture of earth, he was carried in a womb, born through a birth canal,grew up in Galilee, learned obedience from his parents, learned a language, learned a trade. His incarnation, the act of 'taking on flesh and dwelling among us', was inconvenient, humiliating,and time consuming.It was expensive!
When Paul talks about 'becoming all things to all men that he might win some' in 1 Corinthians 9, he is calling us to follow him as he follows the example of Christ. In fact, when he sends Gentile Timothy to preach the Gospel to the Jews he has him circumcised. Timothy paid the price of incarnation with his own foreskin! It must have been painful, humiliating and expensive too.
How willing are we to be inconvenienced by engaging our culture with compassion, friendship and humility?
Are we able to be 'in the world but not of it?'
Once we have engaged our world, do we have the boldness of Jesus, and of Paul, to share our grace story at the right time?
These are three huge questions for all of us if we are to answer the call live for the cause of Gospel. Surely we need the power and wisdom of the Spirit of Mission to say yes to all three?
We may feel fat and clumsy like Nacho, but Christ wants to empower and use every one of us for His mission.