Did you ever notice how all the stories in the Bible are captivating? It’s full of well-told stories about people doing weird and interesting things in the name of the Lord or even against it. I mean sure, there are some boring entries about Old Testament kings who stereotypically removed or failed to remove high places and Asherah poles from Israel and were thus deemed righteous or unrighteous. But every story that takes the time to give a play by play is just… weird.
I mean, really: Burning bushes, talking goats, God spitting in peoples eyes, making strange analogies, and telling people to eat His body while also letting Him wash their feet…It’s a strange book.
What does this mean for us today? How does this apply to our day to day lives as Christians?
Well, let’s start with the idea we are supposed to be following God and letting Him call the shots. We are supposed to walk not by our own wisdom, but through His.
So, if we are supposed to walk according to God’s will, shouldn’t our actions on Earth look like what God does on Earth?
Take any biblical character following God, and you will find a weird plan every single time. It’s almost like God makes them purposefully strange, just so people will know they are not normal and mistakenly give glory to human planners.
Gideon is a great example. God makes Gideon strip his army down to nothing. Judges 7:2 says “Lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, My own hand has saved me.” God wanted everyone to know it was His plan, not Israel’s, so He made Gideon do something so crazy no one could ever possibly claim it had been accomplished by human power or planning.
Sometimes God may tell us to do something that doesn’t make any sense. Sure Naaman, you could have washed yourself once in the Jordan to get healed, but God said do it seven times…. why? Because He’s God and He said so, that’s why. Apparently He likes the number seven (2 Kings 5:10).
The key here is: Because God said so. He is God and we are not. We don’t need to understand everything He says and tells us to do, and sometimes, especially when we start thinking we have everything figured out, He may have to clarify that point by addressing our pride and making us do something multiple times instead of just once.
But more often than situations like Naaman’s pride needing an adjustment, I see instances where God just wanted to remind people He is God, and His ways are not our ways. Why spit in someone’s eye when you could pray for them? Why should God’s prophet ever marry a prostitute? Why should God’s chosen be sold into slavery by his brothers, or killed for the sins of the World?
God is weird, like that one kid at school who is obsessive about a certain show and knows every character’s line by heart, or the math nerd who no one can understand except the professors. God operates on a different level.
So why do we constantly see people thinking they can make theology systematic? Why do we keep going back to the idea that we can figure out a step by step, orderly, rational way to be holy?
Holiness, love, goodness…God is the source of all these things, the only source, and He does not and will not play according to human rules and understanding. We need to realize we can’t understand God, and, like Igor, the humble servant of the mad genius, humbly follow our master’s commands, even when they make no sense. We need to trust that which we do not and cannot understand.
I’m not saying God wants to relate to us like Frankenstein to Igor. He very much wants a personal relationship. What I’m saying is the understanding and wisdom God pours out on us is more about us understanding His character than understanding His plans. Our knowledge of God is incomplete in this world. No matter how much wisdom He gives us, we still see as through a glass darkly, and we still do not understand His plans. We need to keep that in mind.
The only true source of guidance, of even a basic ability to follow God’s plan for us on a daily basis, comes from listening to God’s direction. We can’t figure out God’s plan for our lives rationally because He has specifically designed His plans to be impossible to figure out. He makes weird plans on purpose, to keep us coming to Him, lest we, like Israel, claim the glory for our own righteousness.
It’s written in 2 Timothy 3: 16-17 that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
The Bible teaches us how to listen to God, how the spiritual gifts work, and how to weigh righteous and unrighteous influences. It equips us to do God’s work. But only God can reveal His individual plan for your life. Only God can tell you if you are a pastor or not, to go on a missions trip or not, or tell a man to wash once or seven times.
At times when we are unsure of His plan, we must remember Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge (consider wise and follow) Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
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