Thursday, December 22
Becoming Visible as Christ's Presence
Henlee Barnette, author of Clarence Jordan: Turning Dreams Into Deeds, reminds us, "There is really only one method of evangelism in the New Testament: the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. God made his good news the 'Idea' - Clarence translates 'Logos' or 'Word' as 'Idea' - known to mankind by becoming a man. In Jesus, God became visible." Too many of us are reaching for the vanishing cream to avoid life. It is the challenge of every believer to become the visible Christ.
The "Saint in Overalls" or "Prophet in Blue Jeans," Clarence L. Jordan, founder of Koinonia Farm which became Koinonia Partners, presents the best understanding of what "the Word became flesh," the doctrine of the incarnation, really means.
Challenging the church he attended at the time (1950), Rehoboth Baptist Church located near Koinonia Farm, on having become an "enclave of racism" and concerned with "petty programs of self enhancement," he was excommunicated along with everyone who was a part of Koinonia. The reasons given were holding "views and practices contrary to those of other members of Rehoboth Church." Some practices were visiting black churches and holding worship services "where both white and colored attended together." None of the other churches in the area would allow them to join. Clarence never again tried to join a church, and when asked about his denomination would reply, "Ex-Baptist."
Clarence said of the current fate of incarnation: The word became a sermon and was later expanded into a book and the book sold well and inspired other books until of the making of books there was no end. And the word died in darkness and was buried in the theological library. The cost of becoming the visible Christ is high. It could be your denominational affiliation or even your life, as in the case of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has it right. Christianity is all about "being the presence of Christ" wherever one finds oneself in this world. Is it any wonder the Christ event became SO significant it literally changed the calendar? What an awesome challenge has been set before us to be the voice, the hands, the feet, the money, the peace, and love of God in this world! Thanks be to God in Jesus Christ we can meet the challenge, and the world can be a better place through incarnational evangelism!
- Will Barnes