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Incarnational Leadership and Prophetic Ministry: History and Preparation for an Age of Embodiment

Today, I want to share the first article on a topic that I believe is crucial for the Church to understand in 2023 and during a tumultuous time in history where the World desperately needs an authentic encounter with Jesus.

In this era, in response to greater unrest in the world, Jesus is calling his Church to embody his glory. He is inviting us to participate in his incarnation to a greater degree of oneness which will result in our participation in greater of miracles, signs, and wonders. All of these manifestations of the glory of God will be a result of our intimacy/oneness with Jesus. They will not be the fruits of our direct effort but the organic outcome of our purity of heart, sincere love, and genuine faith in Jesus by the Holy Spirit (1 Timothy 1:5, Romans 12:10).

While “embodiment” has been a hot topic this fall within Prophetic circles, I’m writing this series of 3 articles because I want to share the history of this concept as well as more clarity on what Apostles, Prophets, and the Church should practically expect this transition to look like. In order to illustrate and introduce how God is calling us to embody his glory, I’m going to start by sharing a dream I had in August 2022 that I’ve named “Jesus on the Runway”.

“Jesus on the Runway”

I was in a temporary place. I was with youth, and was a youth myself. There was an organization that wanted us to dress up and be part of a production [like a theater performance]. I had to dress up and embody Jesus.

All I had to do was walk out onto center stage, stop, lower my blue hood to reveal myself as Christ, receive cheers, and then go into the hallway off stage. I was nervous about when to lower the hood to my costume, but attendants reassured me to go for it anyways.

After I got off stage, I received a reward for having participated. I wanted to know how many rewards I could accumulate, not out of greed, but out of the desire to collect more of Jesus.

In this dream, God is calling his Church to embody Jesus, reveal Jesus’ glory to the world, and receive a reward. In purity, the Church’s role is simple: to reveal Christ through us.

We are entering into an age of visitation where the Church will need to operate in greater co-partnership with God. There is an even higher requirement for Christlikeness among Apostles and Prophets, whose words will cause seasons to shift as God backs them with external circumstances.

Incarnation and Embodiment

In order to understand how God is calling his Church to embody his glory now and in the coming years, we must talk about two events within the story of Jesus: the Incarnation and the Transfiguration.

Within Christianity, “the Incarnation” is when Jesus took on flesh to enter into the human experience.

The Word became flesh and took up residence among us…

John 1:14

The Incarnation was a sign of Christ’s decision to be with us. We Christians celebrate Jesus’ decision to forsake the comfort of Heaven, take on flesh, and choose us at Christmas, calling Jesus Immanuel (God WITH us). We celebrate how Jesus so loved us that he chose solidarity with our human weakness so that we could escape sin and be restored in the love of God. He is the best gift any of us will receive.

Though Christians celebrate the Incarnation at Christmas, Jesus said that he would be with us always (Matthew 28:20). Christians believe that Jesus is always near: he is just as available to meet with us today as he was when he physically walked the Earth. Sometimes, Christians refer to God’s nearness as his “presence”. We recognize that while Jesus is currently seated in Heaven (Hebrews 10:12-13), we can also regularly experience Jesus “in our midst” because we can experience and interact with him by the Holy Spirit. That means we can have encounters with him here on Earth, wherever we happen to be.

Today, we as Christians participate in Jesus’ Incarnation. We believe that by the Holy Spirit, Jesus lives inside of us (John 14:20). We believe that because his Holy Spirit lives in us, we have the great privilege of being his hands and feet on the Earth (1 Corinthians 12). Because Jesus lives in us, we are swept up in his mission to love, serve, and gather the lost, thus establishing the Kingdom of God (Matthew 28).

The Incarnation: Historical Strengths and Limitations

Traditional denominations have given the Church a valuable perspective on the Incarnation. Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, and Episcopalians have long sought to embody the life of Christ through traditions, spiritual direction, and sacraments. In traditions like the Stations of the Cross and Advent, these groups have earnestly sought to retrace the steps of Jesus through the Church calendar, remembering and attempting to embody his earthly journey through special yearly celebrations (such as Lent, Easter, All Souls Day, Advent, Christmas, etc). In spiritual direction, they have appointed Counselor Priest conversationalists, who act as skilled guides to help ordinary people hear God in a style of reflective, contemplative scripture study and prayer. In sacraments, they have celebrated the life of Jesus and sought to meet him in every life season.

These groups have rightly celebrated God’s power to heal, and have at times experienced genuine eucharistic miracles because they believed in the healing power of God present in the concrete elements of communion/eucharist. These denominations understood that God can transform every objects like water, wine, and oil into miraculous means of grace for healing the sick, baptizing the new believer, and demonstrating the power of God (James 5:14-15, Acts 22:16, 1 Corinthians 11:24). Jesus also used natural means to work miracles in multiplying fish and loaves of bread (Matthew 14, John 6), using spit and dirt mud to heal (Mark 8:22-26), and fabric (Matthew 9:20-22). Later, his Apostles used similar means (Acts 19:11-12). In the Old Testament, Prophets like Elijah (1 Kings 17:14, 1 Kings 17:22) and Elisha (2 Kings 4:41) used grain meal + oil, their own bodies (touch), water, and salt to produce miracles.

However, the miracles of Jesus, the Apostles, and Prophets did not happen solely through concrete means, just as often outside of concrete means by the Spirit. By overemphasizing concrete means, Traditional denominations may have unintentionally limited people’s expectations of God’s power.

More specifically, traditional denominations have tended to over-focus on the Eucharist/communion as a special category of miraculous healing material. While the eucharist/communion/bread + wine is precious, limiting the presence of God to one kind of concrete means misses the creativity of God and indwelling power of the Holy Spirit available to all Christians for healing.

Furthermore, retracing Christ’s footsteps only through sacraments or rites of passage misses something of the flexible, continuous, ever-moving nature of the Holy Spirit. Lastly, while spiritual direction is a valuable style of Holy Spirit led counseling, because it takes a more pensive approach and relies on a spiritual director as a kind of Counselor Priest, it may limit people’s expectation in God who moves spontaneously and wants to speak to them directly.

There is More

Despite the right aspirations of traditional groups to emphasize Christ’s presence and retrace Christ’s footsteps in every life season, in the past, the Church entered into only partial embodiment. While the Church understood the first half of John 1:14…

The Word became flesh and took up residence among us.

John 1:14

They experienced Incarnation that was devoid of glory. You see, based on the second half of John 1:14, Jesus’ incarnation and his divine glory forever go hand and hand.

The Word became flesh and took up residence among us.

We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

Today, God is inviting the Church into a greater experience of the Incarnation. He is inviting us into the fullness of God’s character, and participation in a greater measure of his glory. He is inviting us into a further, evitable outworking of Jesus’ Incarnation: The Transfiguration.

Glory and Transfiguration

Today, God is inviting the Church to participate in the Transfiguration by embodying his glory.

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 

John 17:1-3

The Transfiguration of Jesus was the moment that God revealed Jesus for who he truly was: fully born of God. Jesus waited until a time when his divinity was externally recognized by his disciples (not going to fast for them to understand) and he was near the end of his ministry. He knew that if he fully revealed his divinity, Satan through other people would be that much more zealous to kill him. This demonstrates God’s heart for waiting for the right time for people to be able to partner with him in his story, both the evil people (Judas had reached the full measure of his greed, Herod had reached the full measure of his envy) and the good (the disciples confessed him as the Messiah).

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

Romans 5:6

At the right time, the Transfiguration the event that displayed marriage of God’s divinity and our humanity in Jesus’ body. It demonstrated what man “full of God” could look like.

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 

John 17:1-3

Whether the Church knows it or not, God has waited until this era to reveal the fullness of Christ in us. In the past 50-70 years, God restored the ministry Apostles and Prophets. Now, he is establishing maturity in the Church to so that he can manifest the full measure of Jesus’ glory in us. This maturity (purity of heart, sincere love, and genuine faith) is the condition that will allow Jesus to marry his glory more fully to his people.

The Church has been caught in God’s nearness, but now must CHOOSE to transition to embodying God’s glory. We have been satisfied with only a partial manifestation of the fullness of God, and remaining in our own human appetites and desires. We have been satisfied with a fraction of the divine life of Christ, and only part of the divine character and emotions of God.

This is an Age of Embodiment where God will back his Apostles, Prophets, and Church with external signs AND indwelling Christlikeness, with traditional practices like AND spontaneous outpourings of his Spirit, full of God’s presence AND his power.

For such an era, we need a fuller revelation of how Christ wants to live inside us.

By the Spirit, will you enter in?

What does Glory Feel like?

I recognize that to a Church who has only tasted glimpses of the glory of God, what I am describing may be cause for panic or fear. So I am going to do my best to describe what participation with God’s glory would look and feel like under an Age of Embodiment. As you will see, it is great news for the individual believer, the Church, and the world.

In essence, glory feels like being filled up and overflowing with the vibrant life of Christ. Like when you thank God for your food and suddenly can taste and savor more of the flavors, glory is depth of sensory aliveness that occurs as a fruit of worship.

Jesus’s glory flows from his life, and our participation in his glory flows from connection to him.

Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

John 14:19-20

When you are “in glory” (not just in Heaven but as a state of being on the Earth), your senses become fully alive. Colors pop, sounds resound, and you experience an experiential glimpse of what the Earth will be like when it is like Heaven (Matthew 6:10). You become hyper-aware of and participate in God’s vibrant life all around you, which can feel like weight and richness. At the same time, there is a sense of supernatural internal purity and lightness, because of God’s grace to allow us as humans to navigate his embodied glory. God pours out grace so that it is not more than your body or emotions can bear.

We see this internal lightness and purity in Stephen’s reaction to the threat of death.

54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

Acts 7:54-60

More than to die, Jesus’s purpose in life was to display God’s glory. In his servant Jesus, God “displayed his splendor” (Isaiah 49:3). This word “to display splendor” is a Hebrew verb paar which means “to actively glory in someone” (Strong’s 6286). In this same way, God wants to actively glory in us!

He said to me, “You are my servant,
    Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”

Isaiah 49:13

The robustness of God’s glory life transcends death leads to resurrection.

55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

Jesus was so full of glory that he resurrected. He was impossible to kill because in purity and self-sacrificial love, he superabounded with the life of Heaven.

And being found in appearance as a man,

He humbled Himself

and became obedient to death—

even death on a cross.

9Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place

and gave Him the name above all names,

10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

Phillipians 2:8-11

Living in this vibrant state of life is pleasurable! It is what God always intended for humans.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Proverbs 16:11

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

John 10:10

For Leaders During an Age of Embodiment: Incarnational Leadership

The outworking of God’s glory in us will cause a thing called “Incarnational Leadership” within the Church. In a nutshell, this is a greater degree of embodiment of Jesus that makes greater Christlikeness available to the individual, the Church, and the World.

Incarnational Leadership is leadership that is so full of the life and love of Jesus that people feel like they are meeting Jesus in and through us.

Based on Jesus’ love, Incarnational leadership means a degree of communion with Jesus that individuals experience revelation as though they were having a face to face conversation with Christ. It means such vibrant, extreme embodiment of Christ through communion with his emotions, his wisdom, his knowledge, and his power that people are transformed. Under these circumstances, the organic outcome of our purity of heart, sincere love, and genuine faith is physically embodied glory (1 Timothy 1:5, Romans 12:10).

When Apostles and Prophets embody this degree of the vibrant life of Christ, people can encounter the purity, the gentleness, the righteousness, the intensity, and the power of God in and through revelation.

“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”

John 14:20

When we speak, they hear the voice of Jesus that was full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

And the Word was made 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

From purity of heart, we see God.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Matthew 5:8

And by the glory of God, they see Jesus in us.

All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Acts 6:15

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”

John 4:29

Next Up: Implications for the Structure of Ministry

In this article, I explained both where the Church has been and where it is going regarding the full embodiment of God’s character and glory. I linked the Incarnation and Transfiguration to the Church’s past and future embodiment of Jesus’ glory, described what embodied glory feels like, and presented Incarnational Leadership as an intentional style of leadership that will likely be important in the coming years.

In my next article (2 of 3), I will share how Incarnational Leadership will affect the Church structure, as it relates to:

  • Worship
  • Experience of Miracles
  • Social Media Use
  • Church Culture and
  • Practice of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity

If you would like to receive updates about this and other articles, feel free to subscribe.

Image source: TRANSFIGURATION” by Fleur Thesmar

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Published by Haley Nus

Hello! Formerly of Kansas, and Washington, DC, I am an emerging voice in Holy Spirit-led youth ministry. This site contains emergent apostolic strategy, prophetic words, and tutorials for the interdenominational, international, and charismatic Church and Educational Sector. Check out more on my journey with 5-fold ministry, doctoral study, and travel through my Monthly Summaries. I take Jesus's invitation to welcome children in his name (Luke 9:48) and Jesus's exhortation to become like children literally (Mathew 18:3). In order to shape the world well for adults, we must serve the youngest among us so that we will truly understand who we are as sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 6:18).]

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