1. You’re driving your way to church, going about 30 miles an hour and singing along with the latest Hillsong album. A movement to your left catches your eye. You glance over and are amazed to see your pastor running next to the car, looking as if it’s the easiest thing in the world. He smiles, waves, and surges ahead of you. A few minutes later you pull into the church parking lot, walk in, and your pastor greets you, telling you a story about how his car had broken down and God had given him supernatural power to run the 15 miles to the church at an amazing speed. He doesn’t look like he even sweated at all.
Do you believe him? Do you scoff? Did you actually see him running?
2. Your small group gets a letter from the pastor of the church you attend. He’s been on a six month sabbatical and promised to write if he felt like God had anything that he should communicate. He writes, saying he’s had a vision of heaven and that Jesus told him to write it down. Your group reads the letter and discovers a wild mix of bug-monsters, dragons, plagues, very specific naming of your (and other) small group’s sins, and detailed descriptions of what heaven will look like. There’s even seems to be specific numbers for how many people will get into that heaven.
Do you take the letter seriously? Does your group discuss it and write it off as a prank?
3. You and a few co-workers are biking like you usually do on nice Saturdays when all of a sudden a bright light shines on you, totally freaking you out and surprising you so much that you fall off your bike. You hear a voice, telling you to go to a specific house in the next city over and wait for instructions. None of the people with you hear it, but they see the light.
Do you respond by obeying? Do you ignore the whole situation?
4. A friend tells you about how he was in Minneapolis and stopped to talk to a guy who was reading his Bible and looking puzzled. Through their conversation, the guy became a believer and was baptized right there in a pond in the park since he was too excited to wait. Your friend says that as soon as he finished baptizing the guy, God teleported him back to his home in Fargo.
Do you believe him and rejoice in the power of God? Do you question and doubt?
How would you react if one of these things happened to you? Would you believe it was from God, or would you reason it away to be imagination or something more sinister?
We’ve got a problem in the evangelical culture, and it’s keeping us from encountering God in ways that could radically expand the reach of the Gospel in our world. We’ve started assuming that if something is weird or makes us feel uncomfortable, it can’t be from God. The church has set implicit limits on what is acceptable and what is not.
Each of the events listed above are modernized version of things that happened by the command and power of God. Elijah outran the king’s chariot (King 18:46), John wrote the book of Revelation to the small house churches on the inspiration of visions he had, Paul was converted after seeing a bright light and hearing a voice (Acts 9), Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch and was transported by the Spirit to a nearby town (Acts 8:26-40).
My question is this; Do we have a framework that can encompass a God who sometimes does – and even calls us to do – things that are weird? God isn’t limited by our perspectives. He’s not constrained to function in ways that make sense to us. In fact, judging by Scripture’s records, God tends to do things in very weird ways just so that people realize there’s something beyond the natural at work.
Don’t limit God. Don’t say it’s not God just because it’s weird. Evaluate, prayerfully consider, and be wise, yes. But don’t rule something out just because it doesn’t fit what you think of as normal Christianity. You might be surprised at the glorious things you encounter when you open yourself up to some of the weird stuff God does.