Peace-makers — children of God


Pandora

I first sent this post out 18 months ago. After watching the movie Avatar recently I was moved once again. Moved in making the connection in our hearts and lives between what God in Christ came to do for us in his incarnation and how he invites us to do the same with our lives in the journey with others. He calls us to a life of peace-making. (Matthew 5:9)

As a young boy I remember how much fun it was to jump in puddles. I loved to see the water splash and cover me in a muddy spray. As a teenager, riding my first dirt bike, I discovered that I enjoyed getting dirty in that way too. I loved the feeling of being covered in dirt.

Then I grew up and felt rather uncomfortable with being dirty.

My adult perspective on feeling dirty was less about outside filth and more about the feeling of insecurity and fear on the inside. I did not like certain kinds of people, as they made me uncomfortable. People that saw the world different than me were threatening. People who ‘believe’ were of greater value for friendship. I found my tribe and everyone else was either ‘in’ or ‘out’ of that tribe. Rather than be close friends with others outside my tribe I limited the friendship so I wouldn’t be polluted by their perspective on life.

I thought I might perhaps get dirty otherwise.

An Avatar is a 9 foot, tailed, blue, creature with large feet. The blockbuster movie Avatar presented me with a visceral look at what it means to be incarnational.

This big theological word, incarnation, finds its roots in God becoming one of us and getting dirty. God living in our reality, on our street and in our neighborhood with our limitations and with our hopes and fears. The incarnation meant he left his reality to put on our skin. We know the story, all too well, really.

However, most followers of Jesus do not know how to live the invitation of Jesus to the incarnational life all that naturally. We are either awkward or filled with guilt to “do” something in that relationship.

I realize much of my following of Jesus has been about defending the tribe rather than living the mission of an incarnational life.

I have focused on avoiding getting dirty to be separated out for God. I think for many years that I missed the life and invitation of Jesus. The story we were invited into is to live our lives in an incarnational way. To let Jesus live His life through us among others. It is not another “to do” thing on our list of following Jesus.

It is where his life lived through us will take us.

It is the invitation to step out of our tribe and affirm the value and dignity of others, often others unfamiliar to us. Living incarnationally means coming another’s way and living another’s reality. Being incarnational is about getting dirty and uncomfortable with others. Any authority to speak comes out of listening and relationship.

This 9 foot tall blue creature, Avatar, brought home the vision of Jesus, the vision for us to live an incarnational life.

He was crippled, yet a soldier and warrior. He was lost, yet had a seed of mission within him. He was Jake Sully, the main character in Avatar. With depression behind him and the hope of a future, Jake had a new mission. This new mission took him to Pandora, a foreign planet. This mission began when Jake, well aware of the limitations of his legs having been crippled in a battle on earth, was put into the world of an Avatar.

Through technology, Jake could embody this 9 foot blue creature, commanding its impulses, yet keeping his own judgment, emotions and spirit. As an Avatar he could enter their community on this foreign place and he could run again. He thought his mission was one of research but it became one of incarnation. Each day he entered his Avatar’s body he became a learner rather than a teacher.

He learned the ways of this people, this foreign and unusual people. Jake learned about them by becoming like them, an Avatar. Yet he held his own separate reality. An Avatar by day, he was a wheel-chair bound human by night. He stayed among the Avatar community day after day, learning their ways.

He stayed with them until he loved them, until he could be one of them.

He thought his mission was to observe and change them but his mission was to love and advocate for them. As Jake changed, the Avatar’s changed.

Jake Sully became an Avatar and joined their community. He was living an incarnational life. Though the story breaks down in expressing the vision of what it means to live an incarnational life from that point on in the story, we do get a glimpse of what we are invited to through Jake’s embodiment of his 9 foot tailed and blue Avatar. We also get a glimpse of God. As incarnational people we help people believe in their worth and value and we advocate for God and his love towards them.

Change is not our responsibility, living with and loving people is though. Through the story of Jake Sully in Avatar we get a fresh vision for our lives as followers of Jesus.

What do you think the invitation to living incarnational looks like?

Todd Rutkowski

~ by blueporch on January 7, 2012.

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