Is The Church Really The Presence Of Christ(mas)?

It’s the week before Christmas
And all through the blog,
There’s an editor typing
Pressing pause on the nog.
Because here and then yon,
There’s a fond expectation
Of a soul rousing post
That extols Incarnation.
So read ye our welcome,
Then feast on a taste
Of the new 5Q book
Then be Merry with haste!

Dear readers, it has been such a blast getting to know you over the last year. We feel very privileged to have provided 5Q content that has grown such wide, diverse and thoughtful readership. As we look to 2018, we are more excited than ever! Thanks for joining us on this journey of exploring and exercising our apostolic imaginations.

We also would like to thank you for helping the 5Q book launch become such a meaningful experience and wonderful blessing. Recently, we have learned that the new book has hit some top ten booklists and we could not be more grateful and excited. It’s such an honor to be included with so many great thought leaders, teachers and equippers. We’ve been celebrating for weeks, thankful to you and giving lots of praise to Jesus.









This week, we are going to post a reading from 5Q that anchors the apostolic gifts firmly in the Incarnation, the Christ With Us. 


In a recent tweet, Len Sweet reminds us that we are Incarnators. That the Incarnation is an opposition movement. We are little Christs, alive and awake, showing the world who Jesus is. Who love is. Who peace is. Who grace is. This seems like an appropriate point to launch from as we walk together through the end of Advent.


In the excerpt below, you will see how 5Q empowers the Church to embody the physical presence and ministry of Jesus, reactivating the original intelligence and capacity of the Body of Christ. 

Here is an excerpt from the new book, 5Q: Reactivating the Original Intelligence and Capacity of the Body of Christ.

Note the direct associations of the language itself (the Body of Christ) with the theology of the Incarnation: In the Incarnation, God’s Word became flesh … it was embodied. Dietrich Bonhoeffer rightly understood the incarnational aspect when he said that the church is “the form of Christ in the world.” Jesus himself is thus indelibly imprinted upon the whole people of God. Jesus fleshed out what God is like; now it is our responsibility to flesh out what Jesus is like. We must not try dodging the very concrete implications of the imagery; we do not merely represent Jesus—in some real way we are meant to actually embody/incarnate him.

So vital is the connection with Christ and his Body that we can say the church itself—not any particular church sacrament or ritual, but rather the concrete and collective body of people that comprise the ecclesia—is the real presence of Christ in the world. This people is therefore a totality which carries Christ through the ages and in so doing makes Jesus present in the world. Applied to fivefold-thinking we can say that 5Q is essentially a living sign of the dynamic activity of Jesus in and through his people.

“The church is empowered “by a certain communion with Christ which allows some measure of his perfected spirituality and destiny to be repeated or re-enacted in our lives.” So much so that we can legitimately say that if Jesus is the incarnation of God, then the church (individually and corporately) must in turn be particular and local incarnations of Jesus. Augustine is ascribed as saying that, “A Christian is: a mind through which Christ thinks, a heart through which Christ loves, a voice through which Christ speaks, and a hand through which Christ helps.” This is as true corporately as it is individually. The miracle is that he actually chooses to abide with/in any particular people.

[Next], note that the Body belongs to Jesus Christ. He is its Head/Source and stamps it with his personality and character. The Body of Christ is “the complement of Christ; that which completes Him; which fills up by its activities the work which His withdrawal to heaven would have left undone, as the body completes the head.” Jesus Christ continues to be Head of the Body of Christ. According to Frank Viola, there are five abiding aspects related to the idea of Christ’s headship:

  • As the head, Jesus seeks to express his character and nature through his body.
  • As the head, Jesus continues his earthly ministry.
  • As the head, Jesus directs both the church and the work.
  • As the head, Jesus nourishes his body.
  • As the head, Jesus is the source of the church’s life.

Once again by viewing things through the prism of the Head/Body metaphor we can see that the purposes and agency of the church is inexorably bound to the person and work of the Lord Jesus. We might simply say that the church is the concentrated expression of a culture that is birthed and maintained in Jesus.

APEST is entirely biblical and legitimate; the top-down CEO concept that permeates unbiblical understandings of leadership is not! We must derive our primary understandings of leadership, power, and authority from the humble, incarnational, cruciform, and self-emptying way of Jesus (Luke 22:24–26; Philippians 2:1–11) and not from secular understandings of power and leadership. Our Lord completely inverts “normal” understandings as to how power-authority are understood and exercised.

[bctt tweet=”If Jesus is the incarnation of God, then the church (individually and corporately) must in turn be particular and local incarnations of Jesus.” username=”5QCollective”]

Enjoy the Incarnated Christ in the Church around you. We are an everyday Christmas, sharing the gifts of our Lord with the world he so loved! Peace to you and Merry Christmas!