You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts (2 Corinthians 3:2-3 TNIV).

"You want to know what I proclaim — what I teach, preach, and believe? Look at him. His life will show what I teach!" These words are a paraphrase of what the apostle Paul tells the believers in Corinth about Timothy (1 Corinthians 4:17). He's saying, "Look at him and you will know what I am all about!"

What we proclaim must be tangible in how we live. To move from simply playing church to living out the Kingdom of God, we must be the incarnation of what we proclaim!

God made this principle crystal clear when he sent Jesus. Jesus is God's Word — his clearest message of who he is and what he is about and how he feels about us (John 1:1-18). While prophets and Scripture are important, Jesus is the ultimate message of God (Hebrews 3:1-3). Redemption didn't come through law written on stone. Salvation didn't come by a set of regulations, a detailed liturgy, or a list of rules. Grace didn't come on a mountain with lighting, dark clouds, and an earthquake. Grace and truth came through Jesus, God with us (Matthew 1:23).

So the test of our authenticity as Jesus followers is never what traditions we hold, what gospel we proclaim, or how we stand on the latest understanding of the great doctrines of Scripture. Yes, it is vital that we hold certain truths and believe certain doctrines to be genuine followers of Jesus (Ephesians 4:4-6). Yet those doctrines, truths, and positions on the issues mean nothing if we do not embody what we proclaim (Matthew 23:2-3).

As Paul was reminding his "son in the faith" of the importance of Scripture, he first reminded Timothy of the lives of his mentors in the faith and how they demonstrated the truth of that Scripture (2 Timothy 3:10-17). The Scriptures are important because they are inspired through the work of the holy Spirit, but the Scriptures come alive when they are demonstrated in the life of someone who loves us!

Bottom line: if we are going to grow people of faith, if we are going to move from playing in churchland to actually living out the Kingdom of God, then we are going to have to hear the call to incarnational teaching and ministry — our lives have to demonstrate what we say is important. We must hold the truth with integrity and live the truth with passion. And if you don't believe me, all you have to do is look at Jesus, who is God's greatest and clearest statement of all!

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known (John 1:17-18).

Who in your family has best demonstrated Christ-like living that made a lasting impact on your life?

How did this help you understand the truth of Scripture?

Why is it important that we live what we believe before unbelievers even more than we speak it?

What happens when people talk the Jesus talk, but don't walk the Jesus walk?

Who is the person in your experience that has best lived out the truth of Jesus?

How are you a living letter from this person, showing what they hold dear?

What's the big difference between God telling us his will and showing his will in Jesus?

Why do you think this is so important — important enough for God to come as Jesus?