You can’t work up wonder

The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 1 Cor. 4:20

One time, I saw a guy roll a frying pan up like a burrito with his bare hands. I thought it was impressive, but he was just getting warmed up. Later, the same guy broke a tall stack of cinder blocks in half with his forearm and blew up a hot water bottle with his mouth.

broken armIt was cool, and I talked about that guy for a few days. In and of itself, though, his power didn’t change my life. I can try as hard as I want to bend a frying pan, but the thing won’t budge. If I slam my forearm against cinder blocks, the only thing I’ll break is my arm.

The real wonder in power comes when you experience it.

People have been trying to use words and stories to make the Gospel message seem more impressive for years. Like if we bend a frying pan it’s gonna make Jesus seem more awesome. It’s not that God can’t use a frying pan to draw people to Himself; He obviously can, and does. It’s just that, until you experience His power, it’s just a cool story to talk about for a few days. For a lot of people, that happens around Easter.

Eugene H. Peterson said it like this: “It is not easy to convey a sense of wonder, let alone resurrection wonder, to another. It’s the very nature of wonder to catch us off guard, to circumvent expectations and assumptions. Wonder can’t be packaged, and it can’t be worked up. It requires some sense of being there and some sense of engagement.”

The truth is, no illustration, performance, or sermon can better express what Jesus already has. I didn’t see Him nailed to the cross and I wasn’t there at the empty tomb. I didn’t get to touch His hands and His side like Thomas, and I didn’t watch Him ascend into heaven to sit at the right hand of God. But those events still changed my life, because of the power they reveal in me.

We’re selling Jesus short if, by our lives, we reduce the Gospel to words. The Gospel is power, power that is ours for living if we engage in relationship with Him. Praise God, we will know it in dying, too.

In Eph. 1:18-20 Paul wrote, “I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength. He demonstrated this power in the Messiah by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens.”

Let us engage with Him in His resurrection power so that the wonder of Christ circumvents all our expectations and assumptions this week.


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