Jurassic Park and the Incarnation by Tony Cooke

Jurassic Park and the Incarnation Rev. Tony Cooke

You’ve probably seen the movie, Jurassic Park.  It’s the story of some ambitious geneticists who embrace the undertaking of creating living dinosaurs from the DNA of extinct dinosaurs.  The endeavor is going so well that a theme park is being built around the exhibition, but then things go dreadfully wrong and the dinosaurs start killing the people.

One of the characters, Malcolm, tries to warn the founder of Jurassic Park with these words: “Don’t you see the danger, John, inherent in what you’re doing here?  Genetic power is the most awesome force ever seen on this planet.  But you wield it like a kid who’s found his dad’s gun.  You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you knew what you had, you patented it, packaged it, slapped in on a plastic lunch box, and now you want to sell it.  Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

That last statement offers succinct insight to the effect that power has if it is unchecked and unrestrained by ethical considerations.  This brings us to the Incarnation (God becoming a man in the Person of Jesus Christ).  Jesus’ entire life and ministry here on earth wasn’t a matter of Him pursuing what he could have, but rather, it was Him embracing and carrying out what He should do.

I really like how the New Living Translation renders Philippians 2:5-8.  “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.  Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.  Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.  When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”

Stop and think about it…

  • Jesus could have stayed in heaven and enjoyed the comforts and pleasure of His eternal co-existence with the Father and the Holy Spirit, but He didn’t.
  • Jesus could have turned stones into bread to satisfy his own hunger, but he didn’t (Matthew 4:3).
  • Jesus could have received earthly kingship, but He didn’t (John 6:15).
  • Jesus could have received angelic deliverance from the cross, but He didn’t (Matthew 26:53).

Similarly, Moses focused on what he should do, not on what he could do.  Hebrews 11:24-27 (The Message) reads, By faith, Moses, when grown, refused the privileges of the Egyptian royal house.  He chose a hard life with God’s people rather than an opportunistic soft life of sin with the oppressors.  He valued suffering in the Messiah’s camp far greater than Egyptian wealth because he was looking ahead, anticipating the payoff.  By an act of faith, he turned his heel on Egypt, indifferent to the king’s blind rage. He had his eye on the One no eye can see, and kept right on going.

Christianity in America

Richard Halverson, former Chaplain to the U.S. Senate made a fascinating observation about how Christianity has been expressed through various societal and cultural filters.  He said, “Christianity started out in Palestine as a fellowship. Then it moved to Greece and became a philosophy, then it went to Rome and became an institution, and then it went to Europe and became a government. Finally it came to America where we made it an enterprise.”

I believe we should use every tool available to spread the gospel, but we’ve got to be extremely careful about two things in our corporate-minded, entertainment-oriented society:

1. We cannot let these tools become an end in-and-of-themselves.  For example, a building can be a “tool” that facilitates fellowship, teaching, and worship.  But we don’t build buildings just to build buildings.  We may use programs, but ministry is not about programs; it’s about purpose.  Make sure you don’t lose your sense of purpose in the programs, the buildings, or the “trappings” of ministry.

2. We cannot let the spirit of the world poison our efforts.  TV, for example, can be a powerful tool for ministry, but if a “celebrity” mentality replaces a servant’s heart, the result becomes more of a Jurassic Park than an Incarnation (Jurassic Park was an answer to what could be done, while the Incarnation was an answer to what should be done).

Keep in mind – Christianity is not about building enterprises, egos, or empires; it is about building people.  Church is not about entertaining saints; it is about equipping people to work for God.  “Growth” is not merely about increased crowds, it’s about enlarged hearts.  Ministry is not about becoming a celebrity; it is about being a servant.

I’m not against ministers or ministries that become “big,” but I am concerned when pastors and others feel inferior if their labors have not resulted in what is considered a “mega” ministry.  Pastor Hagin was right when he said that ministry is spelled W-O-R-K.  And we need to know that God is pleased when we work for Him, regardless of whether what we do draws massive crowds or generates fame for ourselves. 

Christianity in the Trenches

We tend to think that God only smiles on the guy in the spotlight (or the television lights), but I believe that God is pleased with the men and the women who are striving in the trenches.  You may not receive the accolades of men for making sure the single mom’s kids have school supplies or shoes, or for sitting with a family in the emergency room, or for feeding the hungry, but those labors of love please God.   I think that’s why Jesus said (Matthew 10:42, NLT), “If you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”  Some things may not look to magnificent from an “enterprise” mentality, but they are powerful expressions of the Kingdom!

We pray that you’ll have a crystal-clear perspective of how God sees you and the work that He’s called you to do for Him.  If your call results in something really “big,” that’s great, but that’s not what it’s about.  We know that we are not the Incarnation in the same sense that Jesus was and is, but when you express Him in the earth, you are “incarnating” the Kingdom.  That’s what Paul meant (2 Cor. 4:7) when he said, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels.”  The expressions of His love that you exhibit through your ministry—the kind you do all the time—really please God.  Thank you for being a faithful servant!

A Final Thought

“During WW II, England needed to increase its production of coal.  Winston Churchill called together labor leaders to enlist their support.  At the end of his presentation he asked them to picture in their minds a parade which he knew would be held in Picadilly Circus after the war.

First, he said would come the sailors who had kept the vital sea lanes open.  Then would come the soldiers who had come home from Dunkirk and then gone on to defeat Rommel in Africa.  Then would come the pilots who had driven the Luftwaffe from the sky.

Last of all, he said, would come a long line of sweat-stained, soot-soaked men in miner’s caps.  Someone would cry from the crowd, ‘And where were you during the critical days of our struggle?’  And from ten thousand throats would come the answer: ‘We were deep in the earth with our faces to the coal.’”

Not all jobs in the church are prominent and glamorous.  But the people with their “faces to the coal” play a vital role in helping to build the Kingdom of God!