The Road Less Traveled

By: James Flynn
Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

The incarnation of God as man in Jesus Christ has captivated me for the last twenty-five years. Some truths from Scripture seem to overtake you and never leave you alone again. I stand amazed at the willingness of God to clothe His only Son with human flesh in order to bring salvation to the world. I am in awe that God’s plan involved a young, unmarried woman by the name of Mary from a little town on a hill in a country no bigger than the state of New Jersey. I marvel that God was unwilling to send just words but that He sent the Word Himself—a person.

So, how does this and how should this notion affect our preaching?

When preaching is viewed through the lens of the incarnation, our understanding of what preaching is and how it should be approached is radically altered. What if message preparation starts not as an item on my ministry to-do list but with God overshadowing me so I can conceive His living word in my heart? What would happen to the preacher’s life and spiritual condition if he or she was willing to join Mary in saying, “. . . may it be done to me according to your word,” (Luke 1:38) allowing the word to become a transformational foundation for preaching to others? What if the preacher’s focus became learning to facilitate the growth and maturity of God’s word in the womb of his or her heart? The result would be a message alive with transformational power for the benefit of others, because God would have been given the opportunity to breathe His life into the preacher’s heart first—before that preacher went and delivered the message to other people.

Do you see what I’m getting at? When we let God overshadow us and birth something in our hearts that we can deliver to others, we ourselves are changed. We then have a word and a changed life to offer others. We can both speak and show others what God wants to communicate, just as Jesus did. God could have sent just words, but He sent a person so we could see, touch, hear, and experience Him for ourselves (1 John 1:1-3). God communicated by covering His Son with flesh. Jesus Himself is the Word, sent so we could experience Him—hear, see, and touch the Word—in order to know what God is like.

When the Word is clothed with flesh you have incarnation. When the word takes upon itself flesh in the preacher’s life you have incarnational ministry. When the preacher’s life is changed by the word and personal transformation becomes the foundation for his or her preaching, you have incarnational preaching. God desires to communicate through a transformed life overflowing with His transformative power. An encounter with words can be entertaining. An encounter with the person of Jesus Christ is transformational.

Think about the implications of incarnational preaching. A sermon is no longer a separate event—it is a part of my life. In fact, it is merely an extension of what God is already at work doing in my life, and in the lives of the listeners who hear my words. In order to preach an incarnational word, a deep work of God must occur in the preacher’s heart long before any words are publicly spoken. There is nothing shallow about an incarnational approach to preaching and teaching—the price paid by the communicator is quite high, personally speaking. The world does not need more words—it needs transformed people. Incarnation is the road to transformation. Are you up for the journey?

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James Flynn
This entry was posted by on Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 at 5:00 am and is filed under Church Ministry, Faith & Culture, Renewal Studies, Theology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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