How Can That Be?

By Not Known

The Bible exalts God’s wisdom and ways above those of ours (Isaiah 55:9; Proverbs 3:5-6). Take the Sermon on the Mount for example (Matt 5-7): If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well; if someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles; love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… (Hands up if you have transcended these stipulations… anyone?)

It is more likely that you and I, the majority, naturally question those hard teachings, “How can that be? It doesn’t make sense…” Yet all it takes to calm our wrestling and rationalising is a simple fear of the Lord, a self-denying obedience to his word, and a patient waiting upon his invisible hands to work out his good purposes in and through us.

Against the many pride and prejudices of his religion and tradition, the Apostle Peter obeyed God’s radical instruction to him at Joppa (Acts 10:19-20, 23), breaking Jewish taboos (10:28-29) and subjecting himself to criticisms (11:2-3). As it turned out, God had used that occasion to set another major milestone since the Pentecost, the establishing of his worldwide Church (1:8) with the conversion of the first Gentile household (10:44-48). While many of his fellow Jews were asking, “How can that be?” Peter, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, was able to discern God’s wisdom and way (11:15-17).

Interesting, the Bible tells us of another man, Jonah, who, when instructed to preach against the city of Nineveh, headed off to Joppa and sailed off in the opposite direction. Well, he did eventually preach to the Ninevites; but their repentance was to his great displeasure. He had earlier chosen to run away because he knew that God would be gracious and compassionate if the Ninevites should repent. He had pitched his biased judgement against God, thinking: How can that be? Why should they deserve God’s forgiveness? (Jonah 4:1-2)

While the Book of Acts is canonically closed, the Holy Spirit continues to act throughout Christian history. The Church continues to experience reforms and renewals, often accompanied by a clearer gospel witness, when God’s people are willing to trust and obey Him even when they do not know where obedience may lead them. This too can be our experience at ORPC!

Benson Goh