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incarnate or duplicate

The person who invented the first photocopy machine must have been a creative person.  It is quite a thing to  visualize and conceptualize and bring to life a machine that would impact literally millions of lives.

Ironically, the invention of the photocopier has made it easier to duplicate than to innovate.  You simply place your paper on the machine and it produces something that looks like the original.  With newer technology, it might even look as good as the original — but it is still just a copy.

Photocopiers are not evil (except when they constantly jam and chew up paper).  In fact, there are innumerable times when duplication is necessary, even beneficial.

However, I’m thankful that when God responded to our sinful condition, he chose to incarnate rather than duplicate.

God could have duplicated the systems that were already in place, the hundreds of laws passed down throughout Hebrew history.

God could have duplicated the most pious of the priests.  He could have copied the handbooks of other religions, even revising and updating them.

Instead, he chose to incarnate himself and the result was Jesus, Emmanuel – God with us.  The apostle John puts it this way, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).  Or, as Eugene Peterson puts it, “he moved into our neighborhood.”

But for us humans, this fact remains: it is far easier to duplicate than incarnate.

It is why I love the “cut and paste” feature on my laptop or phone.  It saves me from having to retype words or sentences.

“Cut and paste” might be nice feature when you’re working on a document, but it is a poor way to live out your mission in life.  Yet that is exactly what many people (and churches) do all the time.  We find someone who is living passionately and try to mimic their passion, thinking the key must be in the words they use or music they listen to.  Church leaders “cut and paste” from the latest conference or book, choosing to duplicate rather than incarnate.

What if you stepped back and asked, “God, what part of your character, your heart, do you want me to incarnate today?  How can I put flesh and blood on your truth in my everyday, ordinary life?”

To place a sheet of paper on the copier and make a copy doesn’t require big dreams.  In fact, duplication often shrinks our dreams.

Incarnation requires God-powered, God-inspired dreams. God is not dead and does not need us to bring him back to life.  He is alive.  He is big.  His dreams are big.

What size are your dreams?