The Church Incarnate
The classic hymn, The Church’s One Foundation by Samuel Stone, contains the line “Yet she on earth hath union, with God the Three in One.” Our role as holy priests is unique to this union. We are the spiritual body of Jesus (1 Corinthians 12:27), which means He still walks the earth through us.
Yet, our mission is nothing new. Even before God came in the flesh He wanted His people to be a blessing to the nations. Why else would He have insisted that His prophet Jonah go to the people of Nineveh? In addition, when He first called Abraham, why would He have said: “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3).
Though we are now in spiritual union with Jesus and are inhabited by His Spirit, and are collectively wedded to Him as His church, our mission is the same as Abraham’s. Anyone who has ever been blessed by God has been called to bless others. Since it is nearly impossible to bless our world if we cloister ourselves in a church building, we must move into the enemy’s dark domain and rescue those who are living without hope. Perhaps you remember the appeal of the Apostle Paul when he wrote, “And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14) How can they? How can any of us hear unless someone tells us? Our incarnation ministry to a lost and dying world is fundamental to our nature. It is one of those ways we are most like our Father in heaven.