THE WORD BECAME FLESH
T. PIERCE BROWN
While meditating on the matchless marvel of the Master’s message, I was struck with sledge hammer force by John1:14, “And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” Why did He do it? There are at least 60 different reasons given in the Bible, but today let us emphasize one. Do you see a picture of a God unknown and unknowable by man as things were, because He exists in a different dimension than man–not bound by materialistic space-time considerations and relationships? But because He loves us, He wants to reveal Himself to us and draw us unto Himself. How can He communicate? It was through the Word. It was not merely a spoken word, or a written word, but the Word that became flesh.
A word is an expression of a thought, an idea, a personality. A word is not something different from a thought, except in form. A word is a though expressed. The thought is father of the word. It produces the word. So God and Christ are One. Jesus said, “The Father is greater than me,” and this is true in the sense that He proceeded from the God-Father. But they are one in about the same way the thought and the word are one. You can not properly understand another’s thought until he expresses it in a word. So you can not properly understand God until you see Him expressed in the Word.
It is true that He revealed Himself through nature (Romans1:20). But there is far more to God than His glory, power and divinity seen therein. He revealed Himself through prophets and priests and shadows and types in the Old Testament economy. But the music of His marvelous message was muted and mutilated by the material through which it passed.
In order to reveal Himself adequately, He had to become a life that could be seen–not merely a word that was a written or spoken symbol of our own experience, but a Word that became a living reality in our midst. Before Christ came, if someone had said, “God is love,” we could only have understood it in terms of our own experience of love–partial, imperfect, and even impure at times. But in Him, we no longer need to see the word “love” in a small limited context of human yearning and failures, but in the light of the cross, where One who said, “Love your enemies” lived His love (and, perhaps to coin a phrase, “died His love”). It was the Word becoming flesh!
But the thought that struck me with so much force was: If it were not possible for God to reveal Himself adequately through the written or spoken word then, it is not possible now. This is why John could say, “Let us love NOT IN WORD, or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”
The miracle of the INCARNATION was when the Word became flesh. That was God with us–Emmanuel. The “miracle” of REINCARNATION is when we let the life of Christ be manifest in our mortal flesh (2 Cor.4:11). “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation” (Romans1:16). But that power does not operate until a person takes that written or spoken word and translates it into life. The power in an atom may be enough to change the course of history, but no one knows about it until it has been translated into action. The Word must become flesh!
The power of the redemption that is in Christ could not be realized until He became flesh and dwelt among us. He showed us how to live by living–not merely by talking about it. He showed us how to love by loving, not merely by professing love.
The principle is still true. The power and strength of the gospel is not in how big an operation we have going; how smoothly our “worship services” are (they may be very little worship and no service at all), or how elaborate a building program we have, but in EACH ONE of us in our own sphere of influence to so identify ourselves with Christ that they see Him embodied in us, while at the same time we so identify ourselves with those about us that we share in their problems, cares and needs.
The thing that makes our fellowship worth having is NOT that we sit on the same pew, or break bread out of the same plate, but that we are so identified with one another that the joys, sorrows and burdens of the other become ours. A church is not split when its members merely start worshiping in a different locality. It is usually split long before that–when its members have their hearts, minds and purposes on different and contradictory things.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life,” not merely, “I will show you the way, tell you the truth, and give you life.” All philosophies and religious leaders have claimed or tried to do that. The Way of the Abundant Life is not found merely in words. It is found in the Word becoming flesh–living reality.
The truth uttered is like a sign in a grocery store that says, “T-bone steak.” But the truth LIVED is NOT the sign. It is the steak–the Word becoming flesh! One of the greatest tragedies of the church of today is that we have become so entranced with the beautiful sign that we do not have time or inclination to bother with the steak. We have persons who would travel 1000 miles to listen to or deliver a message on “personal evangelism” at some lecture program or soul-saving workshop who would not walk across the street to knock on a poor lost sinner’s door. The Word has not become flesh! We have weekly Bible classes, but they are weakly Bible classes because we are more interested in the Word becoming words than we are in the Word becoming flesh.
Whenever we think of the church as being a Divine Teaching Institution where we learn correct verbal answers to pre-programmed verbal questions rather than a living organism that demonstrates the life of Christ in the flesh, we have perverted Christianity and weakened the message of the Master.
The Way of which the Lord speaks is a way of thinking, talking and acting in all our relationships of body, mind and spirit. It is not simply a way of organizing proper acts of corporate worship and glorying in our organizational structure. The TRUTH about which He spoke was the truth embodied in a living demonstration of redemptive love, not primarily in a persuasive presentation of pleasing phrases. The LIFE about which He speaks is not primarily a life of meeting and eating, but a life of sharing Christ with others.
The reason for having the church organized was not to have some sort of power structure that has the function of “running the church.” It is so the church might function in such a way that the skeleton of words, so to speak, might be clothed with flesh and become a living body–a demonstration of a loving Christ reaching out and redeeming mankind. When the organ or the organization fails to function in that way, it prostitutes the purpose of God and may indeed become the GREAT HARLOT rather than the bride of Christ.