The old preachers tell a story about a little boy whose mother told him to go outside and get something from the backyard shed. The little boy asked his mother to go with him because he was scared of the dark. The little boy’s mother reminded him that God was everywhere, and he shouldn’t be afraid.
The little boy answered, “I need somebody with skin on.”
One of the great doctrines of the Christian faith is the Incarnation. This beautiful teaching reminds us how the infinite God, creator of everything, entered the human experience through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus walked on our roads, ate our food, slept in our homes, and experienced our pain and loneliness – all to show us how to live our best lives and how to bear the grief of our failures.
One of the overlooked facets of this doctrine is through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the mystery and miracle of the Incarnation that continues through the life of the church. Certainly, the Incarnation of Jesus was unique, but as Christ’s presence fills each of us, we are called and privileged to carry His Presence within us throughout our day.
Whatever moment we walk into, we bring the Presence of the Living Christ into that moment. As we drive to work, we carry Christ with us. As we engage with our colleagues, Christ is part of that moment. Hanging out with our friends, Christ is there. Every moment of our day, from the most mundane task to our highest and best efforts of love, is filled with Christ. Because Christ fills us, He fills our moments.
That means every moment of our day is made holy – sanctified – by His presence. Every act becomes an act of worship. Every conversation can heal, redeem, and build up – all because Christ is in every moment of our lives.
I think too many of us forget this in our everyday lives. We get so busy rushing from moment to moment that we never stand still long enough for the Presence of Christ to seep through us into the moment. We’re constantly distracted by our gadgets and social media. We always have to be at the next place, and rarely do we fully disengage from the place we just were.
So, words go unsaid that might have brought life to someone. A touch of empathy is never made and thus, someone is left in their loneliness. We think a text is the same thing. A voicemail or an email is the same thing. Besides, sometimes technology is faster. We can digitally drop in and then, leave before we become entangled in the messiness of life.
A text, while quick and easy, isn’t the same thing.
An email, while good, isn’t the same thing.
It’s not the same thing as dropping by, not the same thing as being there. It’s not the same thing as taking time.
But, that’s the whole problem, isn’t it? We don’t have time.
And yet, that was the whole lesson of the incarnation. God has time. God has time to stop and listen to a father’s plea for his child. God has time to stop for a tax collector sitting in a tree. God has time to hear the prayer of a child.
God has time to hear the grief of your friend. God has time to listen to the dreams of a teenager.
God has time. And we do too. We have time to sit there, to listen, and be present in the moment. As Christ is present with us, we can be present to others around us. Christ in us, as Paul reminds us, the hope of glory.
I grew up in a military town. We were always hearing about the latest missile technology, the latest advances in radar and satellite spyware. Every time my friends and I would share our amazement about what the latest advanced systems could do, one of my friends, whose father was a colonel in the army would scoff and say (as he had heard his dad say a thousand times), “No enemy is defeated and no ground is won until the infantry has put their boots on that ground”.
For all the seeming invincibility of our advanced technology, sooner or later, some poor soldier has to jump out of a helicopter or plane and walk over the ground to finally claim victory.
Victory isn’t won until there are boots on the ground.
That’s us. We aren’t fancy or impressive. We’re the foot soldiers of the Kingdom. We slog from hospital rooms to coffee shops, from funeral homes to afternoon events at local schools. We go to prayer meetings and Bible studies, logging mile after mile for the kingdom of God.
Sometimes, we don’t know what to say, but we’re there. Sometimes we don’t what to do, but we show up anyway. That’s when the miracle of the incarnation happens again. The Christ in us will know what to say. Christ in us will know what to do.
We bring Christ with us wherever we go. He’s part of every moment. His presence sanctifies the mundane and anoints with power the weak and clumsy.
We serve a God who shows up and we serve Him best when we show up.
After all, Jesus Himself taught us no victory is complete until there are boots, or sandals, on the ground.