Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you.'” The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. (Exodus 4:1-3 ESV)
We are all a little like Moses from time to time. When God does something miraculous for us, we simply run from it. It scares us. Especially here in American religious culture. We
Americans western Christians are not too keen on the miraculous. So many times, we want to explain them away.
Demons? Those are just mental disorders or chemical imbalances. Tongues? Those stopped ages ago. It’s interesting to me that we only explain away things that remove the control of things from our hands and place them in Someone Else’s hands.
This is why, I think, we boil the Christian spiritual life down to lists, outlines, systems, plans and the like. And in doing so, it seems as though we have lost the ability to truly listen to God.
The prevailing attitude among conservative evangelicals (read the bad kind of fundamentalists) is that God is done revealing and talking. That He finished doing this when John penned the final Amen of the book of Revelation. Of course, this makes no sense because, historically, Revelation came after the book of Hebrews, where cessationists make a case that prophecy has ceased. According to Hebrews,
Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things and through whom He made the universe. (Hebrews 1:1-2 HCSB)
If God stopped revealing Himself through prophets at Jesus, and if God doesn’t reveal like that anymore at all, how was revelation of the end of time accomplished? Not that there is much else to be revealed, but what is stopping God from revealing more?
Our problem is that we want to control God and His actions. We like what the Psalmist says:
Our God is in heaven;
he does whatever pleases him. (Psalm 115:3 TNIV)
but we don’t like what that really means. We agree, in theory, with Jeremiah that it really isn’t up to us to direct our steps (Jeremish 10:23), but we don’t like how big this makes God. If God can control where we go and how we get there, what stops Him from doing other things that are beyond our control?
Tongues, prophecy, loving our enemies are all things which, when fleshed out, are beyond human grasping and controlling because “against such things there is no law” (Galations 5).
Strangely enough, these are the very things that we are scared of. God seems to still work in these miraculous ways, yet we run from them.
Paul tells us,
[D]o not forbid speaking in tongues. (1 Corinthians 14:39b ESV)
so the SBC passes resolutions forbidding the practice.
Someone says that God has revealed something to them, so, in our fear, we send them to a therapist.
Jesus tells us,
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:44-45 ESV)
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9 ESV)
And we try to find ways to justify preemptive military strike.
It all comes down to an issue of control. We want to be in control. But it isn’t us who control God, but God who controls us.
In the coming days, ask God to remove your fear of what God may be doing and replace it with an attitude of submission to Him and His will.