The Problem of the Supernatural: It is Uncontrollable
?The Problem of the Supernatural- It is Uncontrollable?? Matthew 3:1-12? 12-8-13
Jesus said that the Spirit of God was like the wind.? Certainly John the Baptist was speaking by the Spirit when He spoke of the baptism of Spirit and fire.? Wind and fire are two really hard things to control.
I can remember the few times I have sailed.? Twice we thought it would be a beautiful sailing day and it ended up being a day of doldrums.? No wind at all- we went absolutely nowhere.? There were other times when I would be in my small old fishingboat and the wind would come down on the water so strong I wondered if I would make it back to shore before the boat was swamped.? The wind may be harvested for things like energy, it can be imitated by things like wind tunnels, but it cannot be controlled.
You know it is really hard to be a control freak and submit to God.? It is really hard to be someone who loves control and at the same time to believe in a God who does the unexpected & uncontrollable.?? But it is not impossible.?? If you look at scripture- God is breaking up our expectations, breaking into our lives, and showing up when we least expect it.? The Holy Spirit- like the wind is uncontrollable; When Mary experiences the news of the Spirit coming upon her she says, ?How can this be??? When the people had the Spirit coming upon them at Pentecost they asked, ?What shall we do??
1) WHO IS IN CONTROL? ?Neo-Orthodox theologians like Barth, Buber and Reiner used to call God ?Wholly Other.?? He is not wholly other in the sense of aloofness, but in the sense that God is an awesome God that we cannot control.? When we believe we can control or manipulate God we are in danger of setting up an idol-god instead of being willing to listen to God.
The illusion that we are in control of our world is strong.? But a tornado, a hurricane, an earthquake, a forest fire out of control humble us and help us shift gears.? Some of you were here and old enough to remember the experience of Hurricane Hugo in 1989.? Half of South Carolina shook to its core that night.? I can tell you it drove people to call out to God because they knew they weren?t in control.? I remember Kay holding onto my oldest daughter?s hand while the wind took her off the ground.
John the Baptist uses two illustrations that we wince at today.?? But his basic point is we are not in control.? The consuming fire and winnowing fork is in God?s hand.? We are like grains of grass before the tractor coming. Grains cannot resist a harvester; blades of grass cannot resist a consuming fire.? We aren?t in control. John?s point is that we cannot continue to do evil and think we will get away with it.? If we think that God doesn?t care what we do the only one we are fooling is ourselves.? John?s message was we need to quit going our own way- repent and go God?s way.? It is a simple but important message for all of us.
2) HOW CAN THIS BE? This is the question Mary asked.? How can God do possibly do more than what we imagine.? God is not simply a part of creation that only does the unexpected.? God comes to us.? He comes to us not simply from inside of us- but from outside of us.? The Creator is not part of creation, but comes to us and does the unusual and the unexpected.
Some experience severe frustration that they are not in control of their universe.? But we will all eventually say the universe is bigger than our control.?? In the end, sickness, disaster, problems, and especially death teach us that we are not in control.? We do not manipulate the universe except in very minor ways, and we do not manipulate God or His purposes.? God who gives life is able to open the womb of Elizabeth or the womb of Mary.
The same angel came according to Luke to both Zechariah and Mary with similar womb-opening miracles.? Both basically responded with ?How can this be??? But there is a difference between Zechariah?s ?How can this be??? and Mary?s ?How can this be??? It may have been evident in the tone or the motivation, but the angel indicated that the difference boils down to belief that God can make a way when there is no way.? It is a belief that God can bless and help us- and is not so above us.? It is a belief that the kingdom of heaven is near- and not always so far away.?? I believe in our day, God is very much at work.? We are trying to say it doesn?t make a difference whether we believe in God.
Our hope, never rests in our ability to control all of life.? We cannot control it.? Our hope rests in God and His grace, His power, His love.?? The idea of trying to be in control of life- leads either to legalism– trying to do EVERYTHING RIGHT,? or to idolatry- trying to create a God that we can manipulate to do what we want or expect.? ?If you feel you have no hope; if you feel you are out of control; then the good news is not that you need to try harder.? The good news is this is right where God wants you to be.?? God comes- the kingdom is near- give your control to Him.? Thanksgiving meal or Christmas Day is like that.? If you want everything to be just perfect then you are setting yourself up for disappointment.? But if you can live with some chaos- you?ll enjoy it.
3) WHAT SHALL WE DO?? -? Surrender control.? Stop trying to run your life.? Repent and be baptized- make a commitment. Coming to worship is doing that.? It is giving up our time, our illusion that we can work our way to happiness or spend our way to happiness.? Coming to worship on the Lord?s Day is giving up time to the God who makes time- and gives us each moment.
Seek Him– The Shepherds said, ?Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing.? Quit watching started committing. ?The wise men sought him- they quit watching the star- committed to follow it. Commit to stand in awe of the one in control.
Go God?s way– ?When the wind is heading straight at you, if you are going the way of the wind, you will go fast.? Some people are purposefully turning against the way of the wind– the way of God.? They need to go God?s way.?? If you know the fire is headed east, go west.? Look to see which way God would have you to go.? Go God?s way.? We cannot control God, nor can we win in a fight against Him.? We would do well to join them.