And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
Our Creator left Heaven where He was worshiped, appreciated, and was comfortable, and He became incarnate into a human. 100% God and 100% human... Only Jesus could do that.
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death--even death on a cross! Philippians 2:5-8
Jesus Christ became human because He wanted to be our redeemer. He wanted to redeem us from the power of sin, Satan, and death. In order to do that, He had to do what we couldn't do: Live a life that perfectly glorifies God. Since He is 100% God, Jesus is infinitely worthy. Since He was 100% human, Jesus could be our proxy in taking the death penalty for sin. Being infinitely worthy, Jesus absorbed infinite justice and eternal death in a short time. Since He absorbed the penalty for sin, Jesus became alive again.
What does this have to do with incarnational living? Jesus set aside His rights, pride, ambitions, vacation plans, career path, safety, and went to live where it wasn't safe and He was humbled, dirty, sick, sorrowful, and under-appreciated. It was difficult. It was hard. It was stressful. There was even a moment when He asked to escape but instead was courageous and fulfilled His mission.
Leaving your home, culture and choosing to immerse yourself into another's in order to bring good news of hope, love, and a new life in Christ is very difficult. But, it is what Jesus told His followers to do.
Anyone who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 10:39
Incarnational living is difficult because it requires you to leave behind one life, in order to live the life of Jesus within the context of another's culture. Incarnational living can be lonely, even though you are surrounded by people. Incarnational living is trying to live as Jesus did... out of your comfort zone but in someone else's comfort zone.
"Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone." Jesus Christ.
So much of our thinking about relationships, household roles, time management, efficiency, fun, and success comes from our cultural upbringing.
Jumping into a new culture has been wildly exciting and friendships are being forged. Since we live in the Banaba Girls' House, we are integrating into their daily lives and becoming friends. However, there is a cultural adjustment happening for everyone involved.
Immersing ourselves into the Filipino culture has been a dream come true for us. And, it requires us to set aside our ideas in order to listen and understand their ideas.
One of the guiding principles for doing ministry in another cultural context is to try to understand your host culture's perspective.
When you look at life only through the lens of your own culture, you are limiting yourself. When you think that your cultural lens is correct, you have crossed the line into being ethnocentric.
So, what is the answer? Where can we know what God wants for us no matter what culture we are born into? It is actually really simple!
All Christ-followers are committed to following the truth of God and applying it to their daily lives. Jesus Christ is the infinite embodiment of truth and wisdom. When God picks us out of the world and adopts us into His family, He gives us two gifts: He gives us the Bible and He gives us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit uses the Bible to teach us Jesus' culture. Jesus' culture is not American or Filipino. Jesus' culture is a lifestyle of applying and doing truth.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17