For the past couple of weeks here at Legacy we’ve taken a close look at the birth of Jesus in an effort to see God’s Incarnation, not as a complex and confusing theological abstraction but, as a way of looking at life and living life that changes our whole worldview. We’ve seen in all of the contrasts between human and divine at the stable scenes that the birth of Jesus shows us the low condition and the high potential of God’s creation. We’ve noticed in the genealogies that our God jumps right into the middle of our sin and grief to save us. By looking at all the different kinds of people in the birth stories we’ve concluded that the saving gospel of Jesus is for all. And in the vulnerable infant Jesus we’ve seen our own neediness and utter dependence on our Father God.
We’ve seen what God is doing by becoming human and living with us here on earth.
And this coming Sunday we’re wrapping up this short three-part series by identifying ways to live into the story, finding ways to jump in and join what God is doing in the Incarnation, how to embody this and live this out in our individual lives and as a church family.
Emmanuel is God with us, not God instead of us. And God with us means us with God.
In 1 Thessalonians 3, the apostle Paul uses a phrase that presents a striking way of viewing our partnership with our God. He refers to Timothy as “God’s fellow worker.” The idea of God and Timothy being co-laborers or co-workers with each other in the Kingdom—equals, if you will, in service—is such a scandalous thought that several later manuscripts of Paul’s letter change the wording to identify Timothy as Paul’s fellow worker or as God’s servant. But the earliest Greek manuscripts of the passage are crystal clear: Timothy is God’s fellow worker. It’s the same designation Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 3:9 when he describes Cephas, Apollos, and himself as “God’s fellow workers.”
That language should fill us with a tremendous sense of confidence and calling.
As God’s children we are in a partnership with him. God is a God of reconciliation. God’s work in the Christ is a work of reconciliation. And as God’s fellow workers, that’s our work, too!
Doing the work of Jesus, with Jesus, is the greatest part of being transformed into his image. We reflect his glory and are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, because of the ministry we’ve been given. Living like Jesus is not something we do to get salvation. It is our salvation! We are “being saved.” It’s a process—one that clearly sees the destination, but never at the expense of the journey. Jesus preached all the time about the Kingdom of Heaven. But all his teachings had to do with living right here, right now, with people on this earth, not in the afterlife.
Our calling as God’s children is to behave as a people who realize God made us to be his partners. Fellow workers. Co-reconcilers in the world.