The incarnation of Christ, Jesus in the flesh, must shape the way we live in the world. The reason we're not to cocoon away from people is because Christ came to people. The reason we're not to combat people is because Christ labored to reconcile people, to God and to one another. The reason we're not to conform to this world is

because Christ was otherworldly in His character and holiness.

The incarnation of Christ is the model for mission, the example for the Christian living at Godspeed. When Christ took on humanity, He was fully man and yet fully God. "In Him all the fullness of Deity dwells" Colossians 2:9 says, and yet He took on flesh and blood (Heb. 2:14).

Jesus had a dual nature.

Patterned after Jesus, the church also has a dual nature. In John 17, Jesus said we are not of the world because we've been born again as new creations. Then a few verses later, He sent us into the world as members of humanity. Dual nature.

Peter called the church a royal priesthood that offers up spiritual sacrifices (worship) and a holy nation that proclaims the excellencies of God (witness). This is what John Stott labeled the double identity of the church, or incarnational Christianity.

Incarnational Christianity means that we're called out of the world in worship to God while being sent into the world as witnesses of God. The church is a worshipping and witnessing community, and Christians are worshipping and witnessing people.


Jesus was totally committed to humanity without ever ceasing to be holy, which Stott called "total identification without any loss of identity." This concept is important for those of us who are more committed to humanity than we are to holiness.

Think about boats.

I grew up boating off the coast of Santa Barbara and around the Channel Islands and have spent hundreds of hours fishing and surfing from boats. A boat in the water is so much better than a boat in the front yard, in the driveway, or even on the dock.

Here's when a boat is really lame.

A boat is really lame when water gets inside of it. It's the absolute worst. When the boat fills up with water, it becomes useless to the point that it would have been better to leave the boat in the front yard.

My dad and I used to fish for mako sharks from our boat. Mako sharks are crazy and once on deck they can easily thrash either your body or the boat itself. One time I suggested to my dad that we bring along a shotgun, so we could shoot the shark before we pulled it on board and avoid the thrashing that would result. My dad took one look at me, and I instantly knew what he was thinking ... in the heat of the battle with a mako shark there would be as much chance of us blowing a hole in the boat as there would be of blowing a hole in the shark.

Cooler heads prevailed, and we left the gun at home. The thought of the boat filling up with shark-infested water twenty miles out to sea was not a pleasant one.

If you've ever boated, you already know the simple logic of this: you want your boat in the water, but you don't want water in the boat. The same is true for Christians: God wants them in the world, but He doesn't want the world in them.

Maybe this is you right now. Perhaps you're far more committed to humanity than you are to holiness.

Or maybe you err in the opposite way: you're far more committed to holiness than you are to humanity. Perhaps you're a boat that's forgotten why it's a boat.