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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Incarnational Living

What in the world does Incarnational Living mean? You are about to find out!


Continuing the review of ESA's March/April Prism Magazine, the second article is Reimagining Relocation: Can Christians walk with the poor without leaving their neighborhood? by Eric T. Iverson.


Webster defines the adjective Incarnate as: 1 a : invested with bodily and especially human nature and form b : made manifest or comprehensible : EMBODIED <a fiend incarnate> but the verb form of Incarnate is: : to make incarnate: as a : to give bodily form and substance to <incarnates the devil as a serpent> b (1) : to give a concrete or actual form to : ACTUALIZE (2) : to constitute an embodiment or type of <no one culture incarnates every important human value -- Denis Goulet>


BLAH BLAH BLAH what does it really mean?


 Incarnation is usually referred to Jesus becoming human and living on earth for thirty years.  The Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) uses the word Relocation in their 8 component philosophy. Incarnational living is just another way of saying that you are investing and moving yourself into a new area, becoming a part of your new neighborhood.


Back to the Article at hand.  Iverson's main premise for the article is that while all Christians might not feel called to relocate or move into a more "urban neighborhood"  can still help impact those neighborhoods:



I worry that too many assume that picking up and moving to places like Lawndale [a CCDA community in Chicago] is the only way to be involved in the principle of relocation. I fear that many Christians use relocation as the bullet to shoot down the entire message of the CCDA: "If I have to move to the ghetto to build the kingdom they're talking about, then I'm gonna find somebody else to listen to, 'cause I ain't moving'."



Iverson uses the example of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 to illustrate his point.  He draws five points from the story:




  1. Went to the person in need

  2. Recognized there was a problem

  3. Decided it was important enough to act

  4. Met the need

  5. Walked with him



He continues by saying:



I know a lot of people performing steps one through four, but it is number five that many struggle with.  Walking alongside those in need can lead to real change and healing for all parties involved. (When you walk beside the poor, they walk beside you, too.) But walking with the poor physically - for those who choose to move - is only one option.  Walking with the poor spiritually - for those who won't or can't just yet - is another.



He later interchanges the idea of walking with the poor spiritually and walking with them mentally.  I think spiritually we should pray and intercede with God on their behalf, but mentally is the more practical stuff that we can do each day.  Iverson uses the illustration of purchasing a new SUV.  Typically its an easy mathematical and mechanical decision on which car to purchase, "Can I afford this car, that is brand new and meets my needs?".  Iverson adds into the equation the thought process that the cost of the car might equal someone's yearly wages or even their wages for 5 years.  He would argue that we should purchase a used SUV and then take the extra $10,000 or so saved and use it to help the poor among us. 


He closes with some practical applications, and so will I:





  • Relocate, or work to create a livable wage for the poor




  • Relocate, or stop for a minute before yu hire someone from within your network. Is there a group of people not represented in your workplace?




  • Relocate, or think about the purchases you make - How will this purchase impact the poor?




  • Relocate, or support someone who has




  • Relocate, or send somebody else's kids to college




  • Relocate, or help someone make a down-payment on a house.





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1 comment:

haitianministries said...

Thanks for pointing out this article! This is a topic that I've found challenging to communicate to my students as well as to live out in real life. Always helpful to thing about how to approach relocation/incarnational ministry from a different perspective.