Wednesday, April 17, 2013


     FNA (Friendly Neighborhood Atheist) had an interesting question a few days ago:  "You always hear about people being demon-possessed... how come you never hear about a person being 'God-possessed'?"  We were with one other driver, who started to ponder the question, but I quietly raised my hand to FNA's amazement and scorn:  "You?  You're possessed by God?"  I started to explain the doctrine of the Holy Spirit's indwelling of every partaker of the New Covenant (Ezk 36:26, 1 Cor 6:19-20).  His face remained incredulous... "So why aren't the important people like Bill Gates, or Warren Buffet, you know, people who could really make a difference, why doesn't God pick them to be Christians?"  I had discussed this with him before in a different context, but it was my pleasure to open my Bible to 1 Cor 1 and explain to him that "the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but to them who are being saved, it is the power of God". (vs. 18)  Paul had apparently run into this objection as well:
"For you see brethren your calling, how not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called;  but God has chosen the foolish things to confound the things that are wise, and the weak things to confound the things that are mighty, and the base things and the things that are despised, and the things that are nothing to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh (no person) should glory in God's presence..." (1 Cor 1:26-29).
    It is mind boggling that the God of the Universe, transcendent in splendor and majesty, would send housewives and tentmakers, bus drivers and fast food employees to be His emissaries and prophets to all humanity.  It's almost as ludicrous as Him choosing a shepherd boy to be king over a nation (David), or a coward to mediate His law (Moses), or a racist to preach repentance to his enemies (Jonah).  But craziest of all is God's sending a backwater Carpenter to be the satisfaction His justice demanded for the crimes of His people, and to then sit at His right hand to rule over everything. I guess it's comforting in an odd way:  God is so humble that He doesn't need to impress anyone with His dignity and worth.  And He's so wise and mighty that He can accomplish all He intends with the weakest and most incompetent of servants.
    Don't get me wrong:  incompetence is not something we should strive for or proud of (as seen in the anti-intellectualism prevalent in many churches), but neither should we feel constrained to prove ourselves according to the world's wisdom;  this is the default perception of every human culture... that big things come from big people and impressive messages must come in HD and Dolby Surround Sound (with explosions).  A brother just returned from visiting family in California, and was treated to just such a spectacle:  a church service punctuated with bass and drums and concluded with confetti!  God often speaks with a still, small voice, and we must wait upon the subtle (but no less powerful) "possession" of His Spirit through the gospel to silence those who mock us.
"May my accusers be put to shame and consumed;  with scorn and disgrace may they be covered, who seek my hurt.  But I will hope continually and will praise You yet more and more.  My mouth will tell of Your righteous acts, of Your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past knowledge.  With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come;  I will remind them of Your righteousness, Yours alone." (Ps 71:13-15)

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