Perception Isn’t Always Reality

What if God had a Twitter account?  That would be pretty interesting, wouldn’t it? If God was on Twitter, I think there are a few things we could predict with reasonable certainty.

The first things is that just about everyone would be “following Him” in the Twitter sense and all of His tweets would go viral. In fact, they’d probably have to reconfigure the entire system to accommodate all of the traffic (or better yet ask God to do it). Then I suppose there would no more atheists—at least of the theoretical kind. (There would still be plenty in the practical sense).

Beyond that, I have this suspicion that after the initial euphoria of the Almighty being on social media, most of us would be a little disappointed (though we’d probably be hesitant to admit this to anyone). We’d feel this way because there would be a fair amount of things we wouldn’t be able to understand.

When Jesus returns to His home church, the people are initially amazed (Mark 6:2). This is followed by a line of inquiry that seeks to determine how this came about. Jesus is speaking with such wisdom, He’s doing these miracles—how can this be? He grew up with our children, we saw Joseph teaching Him the carpentry trade, He worshipped with us in the synagogue. His mother still lives here with the rest of His siblings—and we’re supposed to believe that He’s gone off and become the Messiah? Ha! He might be able to get away with that where people don’t know Him—but we know Him. Mark tells us “they took offense at Him” (v. 3).

The Messiah was to be extraordinary—not from this single parent family (since Joseph isn’t mentioned here most scholars believe he has passed away). They’re struggling just to make ends meet. The Messiah wouldn’t come from that kind of a family. And with this, they looked down on the ordinary and were sure it couldn’t be used by God in such a marvelous way.

Perception is not always reality. Sometimes it’s just wrong.

Jesus’ has His own expectations for the people of His home town. The word “amazed” is used a second time (v. 6)—this time to describe His response to their verdict about Him. He’s amazed “at their lack of faith.” This has to do with their lack of openness and their inability to accept how God routinely does things differently than we would. Limiting God to acting according to our preconceived ideas is making Him into our image and there’s no deliverance in that.

The truth is God is always working—whether we are able to perceive it or not. Sometimes . . .

1.  God is works in obvious ways. Think about the miracles of Jesus and how everyone recognized and rejoiced in that (well, except for the Pharisees who found fault like there was a reward for it). But here’s the danger—we see God at work and we decide that this is what it will always look like whenever God is at work (i.e., magnificent things take place and are universally acclaimed). This is a serious mistake because . . .

2.  God is also at work when it looks like absolutely nothing is going on. Think about the birth of Jesus. It occurs when there has been no prophet for four hundred years. Israel is occupied by the Romans and it’s been six hundred years since a descendant of David was on the throne. Immorality and ignorance is everywhere—there’s even a report of a pregnant teenage girl claiming she has conceived through the Holy Spirit. Yep, God is definitely not involved in anything here.

3. Finally, God is at work when it looks like He couldn’t possibly be involved. Think about the crucifixion of Jesus. The cross is the greatest crime in history—Christ dies a criminal’s death for no crime other than loving God and His fellow man. God certainly couldn’t have anything to do with this.

All of this should help us see the truth that our “God is working” detection devices don’t work very well and we shouldn’t put any stock in them. It also reminds us that we need to embrace the truth that we never know what God is going to do next. The One who spoke the universe into existence and created this beautiful thing called life is full of surprises—let’s live with open hearts so that we’re always ready to receive and celebrate them.

Mark

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Published by A Taste of Grace with Bruce Green

I grew up the among the cotton fields, red clay and aerospace industry of north Alabama. My wife and I are blessed with three adult children and five grandchildren.

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