The Word became text…
In my reading this week, I was intrigued by M. Robert Mulholland when he writes: “Here is my set of working assumptions as to the nature of scripture: (1) The Word became text (2) to provide a place of transforming encounter with God (3) so that the Word might become flesh in us (4) for the sake of the world” (The Way of Scripture, p. 16). His premise is that the Word of God is far deeper than we realize. We often come to it with preconceived notions and already formed ideas of what we will find, but when we let the text of God’s Word speak for itself – as much as we are able – we find there is much more than meets the eye.
(1) The Word became text…We are familiar with John 1:14, “The Word became flesh…” It is the mystery of Jesus as fully God and fully man. Mulholland suggests the fact that the Word was written down is also an incarnational mystery. The text of Scripture also has a sense in which it is fully divine – inspired, inerrant – and fully human – written down by human authors under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration for human readers who need the same Holy Spirit to make clear it’s message and meaning.
(2) …to provide a place of transforming encounter with God…The text of Scripture confronts our preconceived notions. It challenges our “sacred cows”. It presents a radically different normal that challenges our cultural understanding of what normal is. In the Bible, we encounter a kingdom turned upside down. Mulholland suggests “our problem lies in assuming that life should be understood from within the framework of our worldview” (p. 20, emphasis his). We need to be open to the reality that a biblical worldview may not be synonymous with my worldview – no matter what home culture I come from. To open our hearts and lives to God’s Word is to open ourselves to being confronted and transformed. “Through the transformation process we grow ever deeper into the loving union with God for which we were created and into which God continually nurtures us” (pp. 22-23). We become the people God wants us to be. We become people who are Christlike; who touch other’s lives with love, mercy, and grace.
(3) …that the Word might become flesh in us…Paul teaches us that “In (Jesus) all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:19). We know and have heard that. But Paul also prays for the Ephesians, “that you would be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). Peter suggests much the same when he tells us that we “may become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). As we are transformed by God’s Word, as we are conformed into Christ’s image, we grow into the image of Jesus. We become like him. We live like him. Christ is formed in us (Galatians 4:19). The Word becomes “enfleshed” or incarnated in our lives.
(4) …for the sake of the world. In Jesus’ prayer in John 17, he prays that we would enjoy the kind of unity with the Father that he himself enjoyed with the Father (John 17:21). The purpose for our having this unity with the Father is “that the world might believe that you sent me” (John 17:23). More than good theology or nice church buildings or great worship music or a perfect doctrine or inspiring liturgy…“the world will know and believe when it sees Jesus in us. The Word becomes flesh in us so that God’s transforming love might touch a broken and hurting world through us” (p. 26, emphasis his). God’s Word takes root in us – not as an end in itself – but so that we know and love God more intimately and out of that transformational love, we love and touch others. Mulholland states, “We will not find the ultimate meaning of scripture in an intellectual construct or formula. The meaning of scripture is incarnational. We never know scripture until we have allowed it to be a means of God’s transforming grace, empowering us to live the reality of the Word into our world” (p. 26, emphasis his).
May we come daily to God’s Word and in it truly encounter God in a way that changes us at our very core. May we be a people who are seeped in God’s Word so much that it becomes flesh in us in such a way that we impact the world around us with God’s love for His glory!