The Six Streams of Christian Tradition – Incarnational Stream or Sacramental Life

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This is entry seven, in a short new blog series, in which I am exploring the topic of The Six Streams of Christian Tradition. Throughout this series, I will be focusing on one of the six streams, defining it, taking an introspective look into the practice in my own life, and then exploring it’s impact on the church as a whole.

The Sacramental Life

The Sacramental Life, or Incarnational Stream, is the believer’s pursuit of their relationship with God and quest to become Christlike within one’s physical and material reality. Although much of the Christian’s experience with God is unseen, and takes place within what is spiritual, God is actively working and manifesting Himself and His nature within the bodily and physical creation. As one grows in knowledge and in relationship, the fleshly activities and endeavors become spiritually significant. Our interaction with God works itself out in the details of our daily existence.

My personal experience with the Sacramental Life is one I battle with daily. Of all the six streams, this is the one that I work towards most earnestly. I often find myself relating to Brother Lawrence and his “great deal of pain” (Foster and Smith {Lawrence} 2005, 370), while during a spiritual exercise my mind wanders. Thankfully, I find comfort and love in the arms of Christ, knowing that He gracefully understands my deficiencies. Although my mind wanders, I often myself reconnecting with Him through simple reminders in nature. Athanasius said: “God knew the limitation of mankind, and thus He provided the works of creation also as a means by which the Maker might be known” (Foster and Smith {Athanasius} 2005, 340). As I mature and grow, I find God showing His presence to me, even before I remember to look.

The church’s role in the practice of the Sacramental Life is fundamental to both believers and unbelievers. Teaching, preaching, worship, the Lord’s Supper, acts of Christian service, missions, baptism, most all actions of the Church, demonstrate to the believers the unity in Christ through the Power of the Spirit, as well as evangelize to those who don’t yet know God. The work of the Spirit through the church, is one way that God presents Himself as active and evident in the world; incarnated in the lives of the children of God. If one outside of Christ does not find Him nature or the Word, they will see Him alive in the heart of the church.

Foster, Richard, & Smith, John Bryan. 2005. Devotional Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups, Revised and Expanded Edition. San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins Publishers.



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