INVESTING, INCARNATING, INHABITING: Dr Marty Folsom

INVESTING, INCARNATING, INHABITING

God is active in the world, although not in our face. Many think of God as detached, disembodied, and distant from this world in a heaven beyond our grasp. However, that is not the God revealed in Jesus. I would like to propose another set of terms to locate God as available for relating.

We might use three terms to articulate who God is as the source of life, the presence of God in our history, and the activity of God in our place: investing, incarnating, and inhabiting.

Investing is a term that can come from economics, and we will hint at that, but use it as a term of commitment that has resources for creating growth and flourishing. Thus, we might say we are investing in a relationship, meaning to give our time and energy (and money as a by-product) to a relationship. This is an economy of grace, giving relationally in an economy of self-giving rather than giving money.

The Father is investing by giving His Son and He sends the Spirit as a relational investing in humanity. The Father gives all to restore and facilitate relational flourishing with His good creation. The Son is His investment, the tangible presence that actualizes His heart’s goal of renewed relation with humanity. The Spirit assists in nurturing the fruit, the interest that is the dividend of the investment. We hint at the economic, but not in monetary images; we see growth in relations that unmistakably bear the mark of the Vinedresser who invests in His Vineyard. The Father’s investing is seen through the Son and Spirit.

Incarnating means to flesh out a way of being that is the visible, active presence of God in physical terms. God is not merely physical, but uses the material, embodied world to be God to us. God is personified humanly to extend the Spirit-being of God to encounter us on our own turf and make the spiritual connection that draws us into His life of relating, knowing and being known in mutual love.

The Son is the Incarnating God. He is not separated from the Father in His flesh, but is the visible manifestation of the One who creates the world and who, in the Son, bodies forth to enter His good work. The Spirit is the One who brings that embodiment to dwell in us today in order for us to be the body of the Son, an ongoing body of His presence. The Son’s incarnating makes known the Father’s heart and the Spirit’s fruit.

Inhabiting is a term referring to the practice of presence in a place. One dwells in a habitat and habituates to live in functional ways in that location. It implies a sense of belonging and attuning to the nature of a place in appropriate ways of making peace with the place so as to be a blessing and not a parasite who only takes. The Spirit brings the abiding presence of God to dwell within us as we dwell in a specific place.

The Spirit is the Inhabiting God. The Holy Spirit is never disconnected from the Father and Son in the way He dwells in us and we are in the Spirit. By the Spirit we know ourselves to be in Christ, by the Spirit, and adopted as we share the Abba cry of Jesus and are inhabiting the life of God in whom we live and move and have our existence.

I chose three “ing” words to maintain the active dimension of the life of God in the here and now. The whole of God is still investing, incarnating, and inhabiting this earth as a sustaining and nourishing of the human life which was always intended to be lived in connection with the God who created this world and believes now as always that it is not good for humanity to be alone, either as individuals or absent of God’s gracious presence.