Burning Bushes and Blinding Men: Humanity’s Encounter with an Inexplicable God

   

When humans encounter God, it is often something inexplicable. Does man meet God through matters of logic, reason, and systematic, apologetic ready Theology? Can one, through the heights of study and discourse discover and know God? The image painted by the scriptures seems to say no.

His appearance among men is dramatic and experiential. And when God does show himself, he does not reason with us about his existence or his law—nor has he done so in the scripture. He simply calls and demands.

We see this most clearly in the calling and conversion of the patriarchs of Christianity. Moses, who though having the greatest education the world of the time could provide, did not meet God through logic and learning. Though Egypt held the hight of philosophy and education, none of this lead to an encounter with the infinite creator. It was not until he abandoned all of this and was a humble shepherd that the God reached down out of eternity and met this man. And did Moses know whom this deity was? He had no idea until God told him, “I AM WHO I AM—the God of your Fathers.” No amount of Egyptian learning had brought him to the feet of the eternal God. It was not through any human effort or attempt to meet the infinite. Moses’ revelation came inexplicably and supernaturally.

A similar story is found in Saul of Tarsus—the great pharisee and Greek learned Roman citizen. Saul, who later changed his name to Paul after his encounter with Christ, had all the intellectual advantages of his time. He was Greek educated in the heights of logic, reason, history, and philosophy. No doubt having been taught the great works of Plato, Aristotle, and the greek minds of Athens. He was also the disciple of Rabbi Gamaliel—a renowned teacher of the Torah and the “Old Testament” scriptures. And beyond all these, was a Roman citizen, having all the social and political advantages of the greatest Mediterranean power the region had seen in centuries. But all of this amounted to nothing. None of this great learning, logic, and reasoning led him to encounter Christ. In fact, all this education told him that Christ was NOT God. It was not until Christ inexplicably appeared before him, blinding him with a brilliant light and informing him that Jesus Christ, the man that he was persecuting and fighting against, was and is God himself. It was God who reached down and met Paul. It was He who brought convincing “proof” that Christ was God—not some logical, apologetic ready theology that the Apostles were teaching.

God reveals himself through the inexplicable and supernatural, not the logical and educated reasonings of smart men.

As a young man I found the story of the Bible illogical, irrational, and all together loaded with peculiar fairy tales. I scoffed at talking snakes, miraculous multiplying loaves and fish, and a great angry horned beast lurking about trying to damn my soul. Yet these stories would not let go of me, residing in the back of my mind for years as I studied other religions and spiritual expressions.

I inextricably returned to the Gospels and to the life of Jesus Christ and asked, “could this stuff really be true? Why this guy and not Buddha, Muhammad, or some other religious figure.” I found myself asking these questions one day while working at IN-N-OUT Burger.

I will never forget that day.

I was working the handout window on the back lane drive-through. A car had just pulled away and I began to prep the next order, getting the cheeseburger with grilled onions and the medium coke ready for a quick exchange. As I saw the walls of the front tires slowly pulling forward, I said a quick prayer which seemed to come from nowhere. “Christ,” I thought, “If your real I need you to reveal yourself to me because I can’t figure this out.” It was just as I finished this silent prayer that the car with it’s thirty-something year old passenger arrived at my window and as I greeted him and handed out his order, the most unexpected and blindsiding thing happened. He put the 2 dollars and some change in my hand and said,

“Jon. Jesus is real. And he loves you more than you will ever know.”

I was stunned. He pulled away not waiting for a response. Was this man an angel? Was he some random guy inspired by God to give a particular message? Or was it simply a coincidence?

I know it was God.

I knew it deep within.

God reached down and met me. It was not through logic, reasoning, or the years of education that brought me to Christ. It was an inexplicable encounter. A moment in which God touches men in ways which transcend logic, reasoning, and a quant list of theological points. Perhaps instead of trying to argue people into heaven and into the family of God, we need to trust and ask for God to meet us—to have God touch the lives of those who do not believe.

The role of the inexplicable, be it a direct encounter with God or through the miraculous works of the saints through the power of the Holy Spirit, has long been overlooked. We have turned to our new god—logic, learning, and education to be the saving grace of the human soul.

No amount of knowledge saves. No amount of books read or theological treatises studied leads one into communion with God. Knowing theology is not knowing God. It is just knowing what men have said about God. A pure study of God is found in the Spirit, in the inexplicable, and in the less than cerebral pursuits. For too long the church has focused on “knowing” stuff about God and not feeling, meeting, and encountering God in a real way.

It is high time we start asking for God to meet us and move in us in inexplicable ways rather than focusing on an academic checklist of theological concepts.

 

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  • <blockquote cite="Keck">God reveals himself through the inexplicable and supernatural, not the logical and educated reasonings of smart men.

    I disagree with this, but I think you already knew that. God does reveal himself through the inexplicable and the supernatural; however, he is much more often evident in the natural and knowable. Remember that it is through the natural world that God has become evident to all, which leads Paul to conclude that there is no excuse.

    <blockquote cite="Keck">No amount of knowledge saves
    If this is true, then don't you wonder why Paul spent so much time trying to prove that Jesus was the Messiah? For example, when he was in Rome, he spent a lot of time doing just this:
    "They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe" (Acts 28:23-24).
    There are certainly people who become followers of Christ purely through knowledge and reasoning, just as many in Rome did. Not everybody gets to experience God through a miracle.

  • Knowledge does not save. Only repentance and Christ's blood saves. Does this involve some knowledge, as in an idea? Sure. But that is not the point of what is being said. A checklist of theological concepts does not save. It is simple.

    I am a sinner.
    I am sorry and don't want to be this way.
    I repent and Christ's blood saves.

    All of this is done through God reaching down to us, not through man pulling his bootstraps up and reaching God.
    Let's be careful and not put to much stock in our understanding, logic, and philosophy.

    1 Colossians 2:7-8

    "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

  • Agreed. Knowledge does not save, but it can lead one to salvation

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