Title:  Living Incarnationally

Summary:  From the beginning of the Gospel of John, we see that Jesus was a
cultivator of relationships which was a key to his ministry.  Jesus fellowshipped
in our humanity to build meaningful relationships to bring people closer to God.

Function:  To show how to follow Jesus example of building relationships

Text:  John 1

Scripture Reading:  Philippians 2:3-7

1.  New series on relationships from the Gospel of John
2.  3 Characteristics of how Jesus cultivated relationships from John 1

I.  He was accessible (1:14-18)
	A.  And the word became flesh and dwelt among us
		1.  Matthew calls him Immanuel, God with us Mt 1:23
		2.  Jesus is the word - God become flesh
	B.  Ever thought about significance of this in terms of relationship?
		1.  John uses the word “dwelt” (lit: tented) among us
			a.  Brings to mind Tabernacled, God among people
			b.  Had to be tremendous - God among his people!
			c.  With it came the law and blessing for keeping it
		2.  Now God among his people in a more meaningful way
			a.  Not in a tabernacle, but in the flesh
				- Children could sit in his lap
				- Lepers could be touched by him
				- Could eat with, walk with, talk with, embrace, etc.
			b.  Word in flesh was God’s ultimate communication (v.18)
				- Related word to communication = communion
				- Jesus communed with us in our humanity
			c.  (Heb 2:14-18)
				- Shared or “communed” in flesh and blood
				- He became like us
				- Now he can empathize
		3.  v.17 - Of his “fullness”
			a.  Grace and truth were realized through Christ
			b.  In his grace, he became accessible
		4.  Our Lord accessible in a way like never before
	C.  ILL:  Missions class at Harding
		1.  Spoke of incarnational ministry
			a.  Jesus “identified” with us in our humanity
			b.  How?  He came and walked in our shoes
			c.  He didn’t write words in the sky, but came among us
		2.  Identification and Contextualization
			a.  Simply put - Identify with the local people
				- Learn their culture, symbols, metaphors
				- Live in similar housing
				- Eat strange food, learn language
			b.  When you do that, can contextualize the message
				- Explain it to them in words and metaphors
				- Can apply it as well
		3.  So incarnational ministry is about building bridges
			a.  That happens by sharing life
			b.  Not something new an innovated, but the Jesus style
		4.  Living incarnationally is about building meaningful relationships
			- In those relationships you bring others closer to God
	D.  So there is a sense in we became an incarnation of Christ
		1.  We are light of the world - an example
		2.  We to be conformed to image of Christ - Rom 8:29
		3.  Christ lives in us through faith - Gal 4:19; Eph 3:17
		4.  In order to be incarnational, need to be accessible like Jesus
			a.  Not shut our Christianity up in a church building
			b.  We demonstrate grace and truth in our lives
			c.  ...Text goes on to show HOW Jesus was incarnational...

II.  He was open and inviting (1:35-41)
	A.  Imagine yourself at the scene as John points out Jesus
		1.  If you sense someone following you, what do you do?
			a.  Walk faster?  
			b.  Duck around a corner?
			c.  Threaten to call the police?
		2.  Jesus stops, turns around and confronts them
			a.  What do you seek? Can I help you?
			b.  What would you answer?
			c.  They probably shocked that he stopped
			d.  All they could say - “Where are you staying?”
		3.  What would you have answered?
			a.  Give a business card, email, phone number. etc.
			b.  Jesus says - “Come and see”
			c.  He invites them home & they spend the day with him
		4.  Result:  “We have found the Messiah” (faith)
	B.  One of the things I am amazed by is people not intimidate by Jesus
		1.  People approach him all the time
		2.  Common people followed him and crowded him
			a.  Same people probably not do that to a king
			b.  Yet they do so to this king.  Why?
		3.  “Come and see” or “follow me” was not exception, but rule
			a.  He had open door policy
			b.  Result in freindship with zealot, tax collector, fishermen
			c.  Ordinary people from all walks of life
		4.  Not obsessed with programs, building projects, statistical 
		      projections, but with people
			a. Took time for people no one else noticed
			b.  Stopped to take children into his arm
	C.  ILL:  Talked with Mike, a fellow grad of Harding
		1.  Said he was always a little intimidated by me
			a.  I was crushed.  How?
			b.  He struggled through academic work
			c.  I picked it up easy, graduated with honors
		2.  I pointed out his strength - He loved being with people
			a.  He an extroverted person
			b.  Related well with others
			c.  Talk to him, feel at ease, know him your whole life
		3.  A teacher at Harding told us after personality test
			a.  Extrovert challenge - Spend time studying
				- If not fill your own well, can’t fill others
				- First priority - ministry of the word
			b.  Introvert challenge - Open up to people
				- Ministry of study and scholarship only half of it
				- If not instill it to others, not fulfill calling
				- Have to know people to do it
		4.  This teacher modeled it
			a.  Not feel intimidated by him
			b.  Always had students in his office “hanging out”
			c.  Played ball with the students at his house
			d. He not have just academic focus, but people focus
	D.  That is what living incarnationally is all about
		1.  Need to be open and inviting
		2.  Don’t need to be extrovert, story teller, entertainer, etc.
		3.  What matters is that you genuinely care for other people
		4.  ...There was another ingredient to Jesus incarnational ministry...

III.  He was perceptive (1:43-50)
	A.  In other words, he was tuned in, he was sensitive
	B.  Living incarnationally means being perceptive
		1.  First thing Jesus says when he meets Nathaniel
			a.  Not - How do you do? or Nice to meet you
			b.  Pays him a compliment
		2.  Nathaniel is confused - How do you know me?
			a.  We just met, how do you know anything about me?
			b.  Did you run a background check on me?
		3.  Jesus answer - I’ve been noticing you
			a.  Not spying on him, but truly noticing him
			b.  Jesus was perceptive because he noticed people
		4.  Result - Made an impact on Nathaniel
			a.  Didn’t take a miracle
			b.  All it took was Jesus caring enough to notice him
			c.  Often that’s what it takes to motivate each other
				- Caring enough to notice
				- Being perceptive
	C.  ILL:  Being perceptive is something you have to work at
		1.  Few years ago, preached series on marriage and family
			a.  Had bad habit of working on sermons in evening a lot
			b.  As I working on portion where husband to honor wives
			c.  Stacey talking to me, but I tuning her out while nodding
			d.  Used to do that a lot - I wasn’t very perceptive
		2.  Problem - I was self absorbed
		3.  Being self absorbed is the opposite of being sensitive
	D.  In all our business, it is easy to be self absorbed
		1.  Can’t be self absorbed and be incarnational
			a.  Have to take time for other people
			b.  Something simple as Bible class, life groups etc.
		2.  Notice each other
		3.  Also, allow yourself to be noticed (accessible)

1.  (Phil 2:3-7) - Sums up incarnational ministry
	a.  Jesus was anything but self absorbed
	b.  He poured himself out for us
	c.  He emptied himself
	d.  Paul said “I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls” - 2
Cor 12:15
2.  When was the last time you emptied yourself for someone else?
	a.  Make it tangible - Empty pocket book, give something to someone
	b.  Empty calendar - Spend day just to be with someone (Jesus did)
	c.  Empty your plans - Someone needs you - Change my plans
3.  There are some of our ministries that need you?
	a.  Need your for PAIR Day - See Don or Chris
	b.  Need Crew Leaders and other help for VBS for kids
	c.  LTC - Will need more coaches
	d.  Get childrens and youth ministry off the ground - Need you parents
	e.  Prison Ministry
	f.  Several talking about a mission trip next year
	g.  Think about ways I can pour myself out for others
4.  Not about a program, but about people - bringing them closer to God
	- For any ministry to work - need accessiblity, openness, perceptive
5.  Are you living incarnationally?
	a.  Are you accessible, open, and perceptive?
	b.  Rate self on each of these on scale of one to ten
6.  Invitation:  Have you been conformed to the image of Christ

Questions for Small Group Discussion