Christ, dwelt among man in a body. Isaiah tells us he was to be known as Immanuel, “God with us.” The angel Gabriel, called God incarnate “Yeshua” or savior. John reported in his gospel that when the divine eternal principle of the universe entered into the flesh he was singularly defined as being full of Grace and Truth. When God dwelt among his people as their savior he was explicit in his inauguration of the time when God's emancipation from bondage would be unparalleled.
The 12 disciples traveled with Jesus for 3 years, soaking in not only the teaching, but more importantly the lifestyle of their rabbi. Dwelling among Jesus in the flesh, these men had the ability to reach out and touch the flesh of God. This residency with the very body of Christ, transformed the direction and meaning of their lives. These men, once encountering the physical presence of Almighty were no longer fishermen, tax collectors, politicos, or whatever other profession they were formerly defined by. Instead these men's identities became a lifestyle of living grace and truth in a suffering world.
No portion of scripture is more important to our lifestyle choices, than the lifestyle Jesus modeled personally. Scripture such a Mark 10:45, 1 Peter 2:21-25, Luke 4:16-21, and Matthew 14:13-14 demonstrate to us the fabric of Jesus' bodily form. Servanthood, sacrifice, redemption, and compassion were the hallmarks of Jesus' substance. To share in the personal emancipation from our bondage is implicit on participation in these principles of grace and truth that were modeled by Christ, the apostles, and the early church. When James states that faith without works is dead, he teaches us that without adoption of a new priority system that focuses our hopes and energies outward rather than inward, we will remain trapped in our dead patterns. Being a Christ follower is transformational.
Looking back into the exodus story we come to understand why it is transformational. Although the death of Pharaoh's son had freed the Hebrew, their lives were now in mortal danger. The people of God were compelled to ACT according to their freedom. It was not possible to live in the land of Egypt as a freed Hebrew. Life could not go on as it had always been. Freedom from Egypt resulted in a situation where these people were forced to flee the place that had always been home, and instead live as pilgrims of God's kingdom. There is little in common between a slave and pilgrim. A slave has a home, a pilgrim has a journey. A slave has a duty, a pilgrim has a hope. A slave has a routine, a pilgrim has a challenge. The Hebrews went from a simple routine of home and duty, to an amazing journey of challenge and hope. Acceptance of the gift of God's freedom changed everything about their lives.
Our freedom likewise changes everything. Our deliverance from our own enslavement, transitions us from living routine lives of home and duty. It instead beckons we dive into the journey and challenge of living out hope in a fallen world. It instead summons we become living embodiments of servanthood, sacrifice, redemption, and compassion. Our amnesty is an adoption that bids us to become the very body of Christ. The church, the new found citizenship of God's people, is God with us, in the flesh. We are the bodily incarnation of Christ, and our freedom lifestyle must be a proclamation that redemption has come.
Emancipation has come to the prisoners, the far eastern sweatshop, the enslaved, the American teen , the businessman, the gambler, the pornography addict, the alcoholic and to the bondage present in the mirror. Redemption through Christ blood has liberated, and we must be the flesh of Christ present in the world participating in the trademark acts of that transformation. Our freedom indentures us to the abundant life that is lived out as self-sacrificial servants in the darkest depths of bondage present among fallen mankind. Our liberty is to be the real presence of Christ body, that is the challenge and hope of this journey we are all pilgrims in.
This is part 3 of a 4 part series I wrote for the staff of the Columbus Day retreat this past weekend at Rockford Christian Camp.
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