Being the presence of Christ in our cities

PRESENCE

The Entire universe can only be understood in relation to Jesus Christ. Every sphere, every domain.

Psalm 89:11 NIV
The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it.

That bodes the question– How do we posture ourselves in this world?

Church has taken various positions:

The Protesting church
– sees the world as evil and we must posture against. There is a time to be a prophetic voice – but that should not our only identity. Picket lines, demonstrations, and public protests are hallmarks of this approach

The Absent church
Christian community seeks to isolate itself. Where the Church abdicates its role in society –
Society quickly moves on without it, seeing the church as irrelevant. We are not of the world, but need to be present in the world. Absence = Irrelevance

The Cultural church
The pendulum swings to the other side with the church assimilating the value system of Babylon and is indistinguishable from the world.

The Incarnational church
When we do live in and for and through Christ, something extraordinary happens, we become carriers of His grace. As Jesus – we engage with GRACE and TRUTH

 John 1:14
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.

 

What is being incarnational? It is found in the truth of how Christ came and lived us. A working definition of incarnational ministry is “the immersion of one’s self into a local culture and ‘becoming Jesus’ to that culture.” Incarnational ministry seeks to dispense with ministry “from a distance” and embrace ministry “up close and personal”—the love of God and the gospel of Christ are “incarnated” or embodied by the person ministering. Just as the Son of God took on human flesh and came into our world, we should adopt the culture to which we are ministering and “become Jesus” within it. A central tenet of the incarnational ministry concept is “live the good news rather than preach the good news.” This means that when we are present, we are taking the presence of Christ into our world.

Eph 1:20-23 Message
All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.

 

We can understand PRESENCE in three dimensions: Fathering / Faithful / Fruitful

FATHERING presence – a burdened heart. The awareness of the need in the world.

A beautiful example from the Bible we find in the book Nehemiah.  It’s the story of the building of the walls of Jerusalem towards the end of the Babylonian exile. There are so many parallels with that story and the church in modern society and how to be present in the world as the church of Jesus Christ.

Nehemiah 1:2b-4
I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”  

So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days;
I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

 

FAITHFUL presence – The CHARACTER of Christ in the world

Before we rush out to DO, we should start by focusing on how to BE

Being an „incarnational church“ means we have a grasp on who Christ is and who we are in Him, and how that translates to my everyday life. This effects how I relate and treat my fellow believer and lost neighbor?

Christ, being fully God, who created the universe and who always existed, chose to come down to us, to be one of us. In knowing this, we as the church are the people of God living out this new life just as Jesus, who dwelled and moved among us did. We are called to inculcate the character of Christ into the Community. The aroma of Christ filling the world, as we choose to exhibit Kingdom principles – not as a program – but a transformed life. We are called to engage in the power of the opposite spirit as lambs among wolves. People see the church by how they see Christians in action. How they see God is how He is displayed and deployed in the life of believers.

2Cor 2:14-16
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.  For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life

2 Cor 2:15 Message
Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ.

Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life.

 

FRUITFUL presence – The actions of Christ in the world.

Taking Faith Love and Hope to our world

As representative of God’s kingdom, we need to engage society in a way that God’s glory would become evident in every aspect of life. Incarnational churches do not have programs that only cater to those who come; they go to others too. We can’t be a „come and see“ organization; we have to be a movement that also „goes and shows.“

Prov 11:11 TLB
The good influence of godly citizens causes a city to prosper.

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