For years I have heard it said by Christians of quite different stripes that we are to be Jesus’ hands and feet. Closely related to this notion is the idea that the Christian community is to “incarnate” Jesus through its words and deeds, that it is to bring Jesus to people.
This approach makes me nervous. My reservations have to do with how such an approach domesticates the creedal affirmation, “And on the third day he rose again.” If Jesus is risen and ascended, then he cannot be conceived of as an artifact from the past whom one is called to emulate—to put into practice, as it were. This is because he is present. As one present, he has a ministry, and one of the forms of that ministry is the raising up of witnesses to his incarnation, death, resurrection and coming again. Through the Word and Spirit, he is at work, creating hearers ex nihilo.