Christianity is an embodied experience. Jesus was the incarnation of God. He was God in human flesh. He fleshed out God for us. We know God because he revealed himself in Jesus.
Jesus takes up residence in us in the person and work of the Holy Spirit. He said it would be better this way. We are his body. He continues to call others to himself through us. We who have been reconciled participate in the ministry of reconciliation. This ministry is done by him through our bodies making us his body. We are the people of the Incarnate One.
Michael Frost explores this topic in his new book, Incarnate: The Body of Christ in an Age of Disengagement. He confronts us with the reality that many of us have a faith only of the mind (or heart). We consider ourselves Christian because of what we believe; but, what we believe is not fleshed out in our behavior. Frost reminds us this is not the historical biblical practice of Christ’s followers. He makes me think.
Read with me personally and carefully from Frost’s book on page 79,
“Watching Charles Stanley on television or listening to podcasts of John Piper’s sermons might be helpful in all sorts of ways, but it isn’t the same as physically gathering with brothers and sisters around the Bible and embracing the embodied task of being a hermeneutic community – that is, a community that interprets the text collectively.”
When we live by the organic life of Jesus Christ we gather with other believers to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church. Our collective understanding and our collective obedience to the Word means we translate for others what Jesus is like and what Jesus is saying. We embrace the embodied task of being his body. Our faith is fleshed out in our obedience.
James, the brother of our Lord Jesus, writes:
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” ( James 2:14 – 19 NIV)
Is your faith something you believe, like the demons believe, or does your faith change your behavior? It’s not enough to believe we should help others with clothes and food — we must help them. It’s not enough to believe we should tell others who Jesus is and what he has done, we must tell them. It’s not enough to say we believe the body of Christ should be ONE as He and the Father are one, we must flesh this belief out. We must be the body in this WAY.
The One who is resident in us must reign over us. “Jesus is Lord” must be declared and demonstrated by the people of the Incarnate One.