On October 1, 2009


I have come to understand that one of the missing pieces of Christian Theology is Re-Incarnation. But before you begin to think I’ve converted to hippie, let me back up and explain what I mean.

Over the past few weeks I have noticed that one of the repeated themes of Christian history, especially after the third century, was debate over the nature of the incarnation. That is, we became adept at arguing over what exactly happened in Bethlehem.

Now there was a ton of different nuances to this discussion, much of the time debates revolved around single Greek words. Some people got upset if a word was used to describe the incarnation that wasn’t used in Scripture. It seems like Creeds were drawn up weekly to defend or define Jesus’ nature. Groups split often, and there was more drama than in the Jackson 5.

All over the Incarnation.

A couple of weeks ago in Nashville, a story ran in the local news about a family named the Hazelips. The tag line for this story was, “Imagine living the perfect life in the suburbs, with a big house, green grass, and a pool. But one Nashville couple still felt empty, so they packed up and moved to one of the highest drug ridden areas of the city.”

They left their upper-middle class life, and moved into the projects. Which is not normally the direction people choose with their lives. You rarely hear a C.E.O. saying the next step after a house in the Hamptons is to finally get that apartment in the projects.

But this family did it. They saw it as a part of following Jesus. And now because of this strange move, the kids of this neighborhood have ice cream on Thursday afternoon’s and movies on Friday nights. The Hazelips have helped some of the adults overcome their addictions.

All because someone chose to move in a downward direction.

One of my good friends made a point recently. He said that much of the time our theology is gnostic. But he doesn’t mean that the way you might think. Gnosticism is the belief that the material is bad, and the spiritual, or non-material is good. It was one of the first heresies. And my friend’s point is not that we necessarily believe that, but that we practice that.

A lot of the time our theology is talked about but not lived out.

It is discussed but not embodied.

Which is what I think part of the problem was with Christian’s trying to describe the incarnation. It had become abstract, a theory. When in fact it was the one part of our Theology that was the most concrete of all. In other words God had put on skin, not theory.

God had laid down his divine prerogatives, he had in the words of Paul, emptied Himself.

And we tried to describe this all while fighting for more power, more influence than the other guys.

Now don’t get me wrong. I recognize that I am in debt to these earlier Christians for wrestling with some pretty tough stuff on describing the birth of Jesus. I am thankful that they had these harder conversations. But this seems to be the one area of Christianity that demands more than just talk.

Because the beauty of the Incarnation is that it didn’t just happen. It happens.

Everytime a follower of Jesus chooses the path of descent. Everytime someone chooses to serve vs. fighting to be served.

That’s re-incarnation. It’s following Jesus in the hardest move of all.

And it can still change the world.

Just ask the Hazelips.

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  • http://blog.floydius.com/ Lloyd

    Thanks for your encouragement here, Storment.

    How very easy it is to get stuck in philosophy and never make it out to practice. I have been guilty of that in the past and continue to be guilty of it now.

    I’ve been involved with inner city ministry before, and the concept of actually moving into a house in some of those areas and actually living there at night is no less than terrifying. I can’t imagine the courage and faith it must have taken to move from less dangerous to more dangerous with a wife and children too.

    The thing about these kind of stories that really hits me is that I spend a lot of my time bemoaning my boundaries. Why can’t I talk to God face to face like Moses? Why can’t I see the apostles doing miracles in the fashion that the first century Christians witnessed? Why can’t I have the ear of important people so that I can influence them to help with my agenda du jour? The truth is that I have a whole wide world to live and play in, and the power and comfort of almighty God to aid me. Why shouldn’t I go make the plays now? After I’m dead, I’m going to be on the bench for awhile, potentially. Only a fool would sit on the bench when the coach will let them in the game whenever they want.

  • http://badbradaustin.blogspot.com/ Bad Brad

    Thanks for this post Jonathan, I love stories like those who give up their earthly possessions and move to the inner city and then realize they will never be as rich as they are living amongst the inner city. Lloyd I love that last sentence in your comment, it is so true.

  • http://www.stormented.com Jonathan Storment

    Lloyd, thanks man. Are you back in the blog-o-sphere? Love your words about having a whole world to play in with the power of an almighty God to aid you. Thanks for that brother.

    Brad, you should know man, you are living this out.