Vol 3:1 Participating with God in God’s Mission in the Ordinary Rhythms of Our Lives

For those who do not follow a liturgical calendar, we are entering the season of Epiphany. Epiphany is a Greek word meaning “manifestation.” Epiphany is a time of God’s presence being revealed through the discovery by the magi that God has come to be among us in being born as a human being in the person of Jesus. God being manifested in Jesus reveals God up close and personal to the world.

God’s incarnation in Jesus is all about God coming to be among us, to dwell among us in ordinary ways – perhaps even in obscure ways. After all, though the scribes who knew the Scriptures were on the lookout for the coming Messiah, it was not until about two years after Jesus’ birth that astrologers from the east, following a star, asked the question, “where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2).

God’s incarnation in Jesus was not meant to shine a spotlight on God so as to garner celebrity status for God in Jesus – though this is what Satan was trying to do through his tempting of Jesus (cf. Matthew 4:1-11). Rather, it seems that God purposes to be manifest, to be revealed in obscure ordinary ways that permeate the ordinary goings and doings of people’s lives with God’s presence. God came to dwell among us in ways which those following the headlines would not notice, but only those crying out for re-creation.

The idea of incarnation as an act of re-creation in the ordinary goings and doings of people’s lives is evident in Mark’s gospel as he describes the appearing of John the Baptist. The word used for his appearing, an appearing which pointed to the coming Messiah is egeneto (root: ginomai). It is the word for genesis in the New Testament and has multiple meanings depending upon context. It is a creative word which can mean being born or begotten, to be created, to take place, for something new to happen to someone – and here it means “to appear” – as a creative presence coming onto the world stage in the wilderness to reveal something new that is redemptive, reconciliatory, re-creative of creation – light in a dark world!

John participated with God in God’s mission by pointing to, revealing the coming of the Messiah, through whom God would make all things new (cf. Colossians 1: 15-20).

It is evident from Jesus’ ministry that he lived out God’s incarnation in the brokenness, ordinariness, mundane reality of our humanity. He hung out where the most of us hang out. Jesus did not frequent venues that got him noticed by People magazine, but instead was with people in places in which he was called a glutton, a drunk, and a friend of sinners (cf. Matthew 11:19).

The significance of understanding the ordinariness of God’s incarnation – God living out his humanity in ordinary places, is that God’s mission happens in the broken, ordinary, everyday places of our humanity. And, in light of that, our participating with God in God’s mission encompasses the ordinary rhythms of our lives, the ordinary places of our lives, the ordinary activities and duties of our lives – as we encounter others doing ordinary things and going to ordinary places. Participating with God in God’s mission is a low calling – and by that I mean that we are called to the low places, the ordinary places.

For it is in the low places, the ordinary places that we participate with God in God’s mission as Jesus did. May we discover how to participate with God in God’s mission in the same ordinariness, brokenness as Christ Jesus:

“He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death – and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion.” (Philippians 2: 6-8, The Message).

And because he participated with God in God’s mission in this way, and enables us through the power of the Spirit to participate with God in a similar way, we worship him who continually reveals and manifests God to us in the midst of our brokenness and ordinariness:

“Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth – even those long ago dead and buried – will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father” (Philippians 2: 9-11, The Message)

May we see more clearly the presence of God in the ordinariness of our lives – because that is where God is to be seen!

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iMissional.org | Roland Kuhl