Have you ever stopped to think about how God works? Whether reading through Scripture, studying Christian history, or looking in the world around me today, I’m struck by a certain reality: God doesn’t work according to our social norms.
Throughout Scripture, He did the most bizarre things. In a culture where birthright was of utmost importance, He rarely chose the firstborn. In a nation where a Moabite nor his descendants to the tenth generation were to never be allowed to enter the assembly, He put the great-grandson of a Moabitess on the throne and called him a “man after God’s own heart.” He sent His Son to earth in a manner that surely must have aroused many questions. A virgin? Pregnant? Impossible. She must be hiding some shameful behavior with her crazy angel story. He chose an odd assortment of men to start His church, many of them uneducated. And He spread His church through persecution.
But that list barely even begins to tell the story, even just of what is recorded in Scripture. Then we have the two thousand years since! Oh, yes, God has always worked in bizarre ways.
But God’s people didn’t always recognize God’s hand in the bizarre. In fact, they were often downright uncomfortable with it. There is a passage in Amos that summarizes perfectly how the Israelites sometimes responded to the work of God that fell outside their human expectations.
“Then I raised up some of your sons to be prophets and some of your young men to be Nazirites.
Is this not so, O sons of Israel?” declares the LORD. “But you made the Nazirites drink wine, and you commanded the prophets saying, ‘You shall not prophesy!’”
The Israelites were obviously not comfortable with people like the Nazirites and the prophets – people who stood out from the norm as they followed God with their whole lives. And, I can’t say that I blame them. The behaviors of these two groups were more than a little socially abnormal! But, instead of seeking God for answers and clarity, they pressed the Nazirites to break their vows and the prophets to hush their prophecies.
So what about us? What about today? Think about yourself and how you respond to the spiritually unusual. The socially abnormal. The things that laugh in the face of cultural norms. If you’re anything like me, you a little hesitant to just jump in and believe. And well you should be. Not everything that seems spiritually wonderful and fantastic is truly of God. But it isn’t automatically not of God either!
So, how can we know? There is only one way. We must compare everything to the Word of God. We have a whole history of written evidence that God works in strange and unusual ways. But, when He does, it always lines up with His character. It always fits within His goodness. And it is that way now.
Oh that our eyes may be open to the incredible awesomeness of God’s bizarre actions! Oh that we may not be gullible in automatic belief, but also not cynical in automatic rejection. Oh that we may take everything back to God’s Word, compare it to His never-changing nature, and then delight when we know that He is performing His wonders right before our eyes.