My work on early Quaker theology and spirituality has led me to conclude that the 'new covenant apocalyptic' of early Friends involved an experience of re-living the incarnation event inwardly, spiritually and in reverse before re-living it outwardly in the manner of Jesus as the Body of Christ. Here are just a few initial thoughts on this which I would like to develop further at some point.
Becoming a functioning part of the body of Christ involves an on-going experience of the Incarnation event lived in reverse.
1. Pentecost - This begins when we receive the Pentecostal gift of the Holy Spirit.
2. Crucifixion and Resurrection - Through the work of the Spirit, we experience what can be described as an inward and spiritual crucifixion (death) and resurrection (rebirth). This transformative process clears away the deluded, corrupted and spiritually dead aspects of our old lives and gives birth to a new life lived in communion with God.
3. The Life and Ministry of Jesus - Christ exercises all his offices within us. He heals us, teaches us and performs miracles within us as he did outwardly in his life in the flesh.
4. Christ is Born - In this way Christ is born within us and we no longer live but Christ lives in us (Gal. 2:20).
Inward spiritual transformation leads to outward physical transformation. Christ is increasingly revealed in the actual practice of our lives as individuals and in the community that is gathered in his name. If it is faithful to its calling, this community continues the work of Christ within the world, acting as a witness to the Kingdom of God through its life together which is characterised by unconditional love, justice and peace.
Because this incarnational community perpetuates the life and work of Christ within the world it can expect to face the same ridicule, rejection, persecution and possible martyrdom as Jesus did. However, by remaining morally independent of the fallen ideologies and institutions of the world (the 'principalities and powers') it offers an alternative way of life which represents a vision of the shalom of God’s coming kingdom.