Meditating on the Incarnation: An Invitation to Step out of the Steeple’s Shadows

Christmas is about celebrating the life-altering birth and appearance of Jesus the Son of God. The church often emphasizes the death and resurrection of Christ, which are of utmost importance, but his birth and incarnation are vital to our daily life. When we take the time to meditate on Jesus’ birth, we begin to realize just how fascinating and significant it is to us today.
Jesus Christ, the Son of the Most High God, who for all eternity experienced perfect and unadulterated fellowship among the members of the Trinity, willingly chose to give up that fellowship and enter this fallen and broken world. Jesus was there at the creation of the world and we know that all things were created by him, for him, through him, and in him. Jesus’ choice to enter this shattered world and to live and walk alongside it is incredibly bold, and humbling to understand. This is precisely why we need to sit and be still, meditating on the significance of the incarnation and the choice of Jesus to come.

We read in Galatians how Jesus humbled himself by becoming a man and by dying on a cross. He did all of this out of obedience to his Father and with joy set before him. Jesus came for a reason. We read this beautiful passage from Isaiah 61 and see its fulfillment in the person of Jesus:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant to those who mourn in Zion – to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit…”

Jesus came to save the sick and dead. He came to defeat sin, death, and Satan. Jesus came to Earth as a stranger, an alien, an immigrant, and yet familiar with the world around him.

If we have placed our faith and hope in Jesus, then we are called to go forth and love because we have first been loved. He gave his very life for us and we are now able to give our lives for the good of others. He came so that we can go. He accepted the wrath of God so that we would receive God’s blessing, love, and acceptance. As a result, Jesus calls his followers into a new community of people who are made to love their neighbors together and who experience and celebrate their union with Christ collectively.

This is the hope and the joy that we have in the birth of Jesus and this is why we celebrate Christmas. It is often easy to celebrate the holiday season with family and friends while entirely missing the reason we have Christmas in the first place. Without his birth, there would be no celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection. He first chose to come to this earth in the form of a man and he is the ultimate gift. This choice should give us great hope.

The China Partnership longs to see more Chinese people come to a saving faith in Jesus. We train pastors in a robust theology of the gospel that not only focuses on Jesus’ death and resurrection, but on the entire person of Jesus – his incarnation, life, teaching, miracles, death, resurrection, ascension, reign, and future coming. If the Chinese church is able to live out the gospel of grace, they will know a fullness of life found only in the person of Jesus. Whenever the Chinese church faces uncertainty or difficulty, they can take comfort in the fact that Jesus endured all things and took on the full weight of sin. If Jesus accomplished his mission in the power of the Spirit and we believe that the Spirit abides in those who place their hope in Christ, then we know we can face all things.

The birth of Jesus doesn’t just empower the Chinese house church, it also enables the American church to step out of the shadows of the steeple. Church is not a building we attend on Sunday. It is the Bride of Christ, a vibrant community of people whose lives are centered on their resurrected King and who long for their Redeemer to make all things new. This motivates the Bride to love and serve those around her, seeking to bring more people into this community of faith.

It is often easy for church members to believe they are not called to love and serve in the church. Maybe we see others stepping up. Maybe we have not been asked or don’t know how to participate. Maybe we have not been told how or believe we do not have the right personality traits or abilities. Read this blog post as an invitation – an invitation to begin living your life through the lens of the incarnation and becoming an active participant in the renewal of all things.

Jesus came to save us. He came to rescue us. He came to bring us back from exile and free us from the slavery of sin. When we reflect on these gospel truths about our Savior, it gives us the motivation we need to love the broken, serve the poor, welcome the immigrant, and listen to the needy. Oh what motivation! It doesn’t come from a poster, greeting card, or t-shirt; rather, it comes from the birth and incarnation of our triumphant and glorious King.


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May this Christmas season awaken in each of us a desire to actively love and serve our neighbors in all of their many circumstances, because we, like them, are in desperate need of a Savior. May his light guide each of us.

 

Jeff Kyle first went to China in the summer of 2004 and has been working with the China Partnership since graduating from Covenant College in 2006. He is passionate about US churches developing a global-local missions strategy. Jeff and his wife, Mary Elizabeth, live in New York City.

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The Internal Cross: A Pastoral Letter
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The External Cross: A Pastoral Letter
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Qingdao: How to Pray
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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Stories from Shenyang

About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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Stories from Qingdao

About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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Stories from Xiamen

About Chongqing

Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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Stories from Chongqing

About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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Stories from Nanjing

About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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Stories from Changchun

About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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Stories from Kunming

About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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Stories from Shenzhen

About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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Stories from Chengdu

About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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Stories from Shanghai

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