Summary: The Incarnation serves as a model for how we can enter our world and share Christ with those who don’t know him.
Did you know that Australians work the longest hours in the developed world? In fact, the average hours we work would be illegal in Europe! Around that we have to fit other commitments like family, friends, chores and... church and outreach are meant to be in their somewhere too!
But most Aussies don’t seem interested in what the church is offering, anyway. Church attendance in Australia is going down. And it’s not simply a matter of finding the right programme, it’s a cultural shift. Right across the board community and recreation groups are finding it hard to recruit new members.
But no matter how busy and tired we are, we’re surrounded by people who are going to a Christless eternity. No matter how indifferent people may be to the church, we still have the God-given responsibility to tell them the gospel.
So how can busy, tired people tell the message of God’s love to an indifferent and sometimes hostile society?
One way people sometimes enter places that are hostile to the gospel is as worker missionaries. They look like engineers or teachers or nurses or students, but in reality they’re God’s secret agents, sent to share his love. They go about their seemingly ordinary lives, all the time building relationships and seeking to share Jesus.
This morning we’re starting a new series on being backyard missionaries - people who look like engineers and teachers and nurses and students and mums and dads on the outside, but in reality are God’s secret agents, sent to share His love.
Sounds a bit subversive doesn’t it? But isn’t this just what God did when he took on human flesh and became one of us? So this morning I want to look at Christ’s incarnation what it means as a model for us being backyard missionaries.
The Bible says, "The Word became flesh and dwelled among us."
Words are powerful things. We say, ’Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me,’ but the reality is that words can leave deeper scars than any physical wounds. They can also bring immense healing and soothe a troubled soul.
Words can carry great authority. They bring laws into being. In some ancient cultures a small child’s voice could command a general if that child was a prince or king.
We learn a lot about a person through words. Words bring information about what we think and how we feel, and we can also learn a lot by the way people use words.
So what do you think it means that Jesus is the Word of God?
Most significantly, Jesus came as God’s self-revelation. When we see Jesus, we see God. The word was God, and in his appearing God told us something about himself. Col 2.9 says, "In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form."
And when Jesus came as God’s revelation about himself, he also came with the full authority and power of God’s Word.
The Word may have returned to the Father, but he is still present on the earth. You know where I’m going, don’t you? We are the body of Christ. The church continues this act of revelation. When we proclaim the Word of God, when we tell others about Jesus, when we live the gospel, we’re revealing God the Word to the world. When we preach the Word, we go with the power and authority of God’s Word to bring life and healing.
The world may not like us doing it - but they didn’t like Jesus doing it either. And in any case, we don’t need to ask their permission, we have authority from on high.
Knowing and proclaiming the Word, God’s revelation in Jesus Christ, is the beginning of being backyard missionaries.
When I was in India I had to preach at this Brethren church. Lovely bunch of people and great hospitality. But what really got me was that in this hot, humid climate I had to wear a long sleeve shirt and tie to church! Do you know why? Because at some point in the past some Western missionaries had come and preached the gospel and somehow given the impression, or even explicitly taught, that this was part of being a Christian.
The most profound act in the entire creation is when the Word became flesh. God became a man. Let that sink in - it never ceases to amaze me. Who is the Jesus?
But it wasn’t simply a case of God becoming human. For that to be meaningful God had to become a specific man in a specific time and place. He wasn’t just a man, he was a first century Jewish man living in Palestine. He could have become a Roman or an Indian or an Aborigine, but he became a Jew.