December 15, 2019

When God Changes The Narrative

   How often do we think we have God figured out?  We know what we know and God does what He does and so we decide this is what he must do in any given situation.  That is what He has always done, it is observable, it is His pattern.  So, we affirm what we can expect and what God will require—right up until He breaks the bonds of our expectations and does something unexpected.  I think of the Israelites with their backs to the Red Sea with the Egyptians in pursuit.  No one saw that coming!  Then, there is Jonah and God’s surprising  concern for an unbelieving and evil people.  No only did Jonah not see that coming, but he didn’t like it when it did!  Let’s face it, too often our box for God proves to be too small and we are too frequently caught off guard when God breaks out and does the unexpected.

The Advent story is the crowning example of my theme.  While Israel would have rejoiced if God had sent a prophet (breaking 400 years of divine silence), He did the unthinkable.  God came to earth Himself and in the flesh dwelt among us.  Talk about changing the narrative! And with His advent He changed it all.  In Christ, He brought grace and truth to light; He substituted Grace for Law; forgiveness for severity; and made His abode among us as He indwelt humankind through His Spirit.  Who could have foreseen any of that?  Just when we thought we had God figured out, the changed the equation—again!

So, what do we conclude?  First, we should avoid assuming anything when it comes to God.  When we pontificate on God’s direction and limit His prerogatives, He invariably surprises us.  Hence, instead of being conclusion-oriented, we should celebrate God’s long-established values and allow Him latitude to work within those perimeters.   As a body of believers, we should give ourselves that same liberty—allowing ourselves the freedom to do different things as long as they are consistent with those divine values.  Secondly, we should welcome the thought that God can “flip the script” whenever it suits Him, His purposes or His People.  This is exactly what Paul defended in Romans 9-11 as he described how God called the gentiles to repentance to incite the Jews so that more might be saved.  Who among us does not rejoice that God has “flipped our script” when we were lost in our transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2)?  Thank God, he breaks out and does the unexpected—otherwise we would be jockeying with the Pharisees to show ourselves worthy of His favor.  In this holiday season, maybe we should simply Thank God that He did and does the unexpected in our lives today.  It’s a good place to start.

Paul Dawson