Summary: God is everywhere, with us always. The "incarnational stream" helps us live with/in God daily.
The Incarnational Stream: How Broad Is The Kingdom Of God?
February 26, 2006
In a certain suburban neighborhood, there were two brothers, 8 and 10 years old, who were exceedingly mischievous. Whatever went wrong in the neighborhood, it turned out they had had a hand in it. Their parents were at their wit’s end trying to control them.
Hearing about a priest nearby who worked with delinquent boys, the mother suggested to the father that they ask the priest to talk with the boys.
The mother went to the priest and made her request. He agreed, but said he wanted to see the younger boy first and alone. So the mother sent him to the priest.
The priest sat the boy down across a huge, impressive desk he sat behind. For about five minutes they just sat and stared at each other. Finally, the priest pointed his forefinger at the boy and asked, "Where is God?"
The boy looked under the desk, in the corners of the room, all around, but said nothing.
Again, louder, the priest pointed at the boy and asked, "Where is God?"
Again the boy looked all around but said nothing. A third time, in a louder, firmer voice, the priest leaned far across the desk and put his forefinger almost to the boy’s nose, and asked, "Where is God?"
The boy panicked and ran all the way home. Finding his older brother, he dragged him upstairs to their room and into the closet, where they usually plotted their mischief. He finally said, "We are in BIIIIG trouble."
The older boy asked, "What do you mean, BIIIIG trouble?"
His brother replied, "God is missing and they think we did it."
The Incarnational Stream:
This morning we are looking at the sixth and final “stream” in our series entitled “How Broad Is The Kingdom Of God?” The five we have already covered are: 1. The Evangelical, or Word-Centered, stream; 2. The Charismatic, or Spirit-Empowered, stream; 3. The Contemplative, or Prayer-Filled, stream; 4. The Holiness, or Right-Living, stream; and 5. The Social Justice, or Compassionate, Stream.
The Incarnational Stream offers a very definite response to the question posed by the priest to the poor delinquent boy. Where is God? They answer, very quickly, everywhere.
“What is the Incarnational Stream? A life that makes present and visible the realm of the invisible Spirit. Why should we explore it? Because through it we experience God as truly manifest and notoriously active in daily life.” (Foster, Streams Of Living Water, p. 272).
The Force Of This Stream:
It is far too easy for us to get lost in life – in the problems and responsibilities and commitments and relationships. Ask anyone how they are, and you are likely to get a first response of “fine” and a second response of “busy”. In the middle of our hectic lives, we easily get lost. At most, many of us exist by carving out some time on a Sunday morning to go to church where we hope that we will get “filled up” enough to face another week of the craziness of our lives. We really hope the preacher feeds us something good, because it is all we are going to get until next week. We really hope the music suits our liking, because we aren’t going to sing any songs of praise to God until we meet again. We know that isn’t healthy, we feel guilty about it, but then Monday morning rolls around and we go through the whole thing all over again without making any changes. Of course that is not true for all of us, but it is for many. Our lives are cluttered, chaotic, consumed, while we wonder why we are miserable and unsettled. We long for something different, but lack the courage to do something drastic like quit a job that demands more time than we should give, or refuse to involve our kids in a vast array of extra activities, or turn off the television. We live on empty, and get mad at God, at the church, at our spouse, because they are not meeting the needs we feel we have.
Against that tide flows the Incarnational Stream. It calls us to notice – to become aware – that God is not waiting to meet us once a week in a corporate worship service. God is waiting to meet us in every moment, in every circumstance, in every challenge and joy and bit of beauty. The Incarnational Stream confronts us with the simple truth: where is God? Everywhere. So let us live like it!
The Problem of Expectations:
Why don’t we see it? I think it is a problem of expectations. On both sides of the extreme – we don’t expect anything, and we expect everything. Let me explain: