Summary: As Christians we are called to stand out. We are to be in the world but not of the world. It's not easy to go against the flow but it is worth it.
IT’S SO UNNATURAL
INTRODUCTION: Unnatural is defined as something contrary to habit, custom or practice. It is described as not conforming to that which is conventional. Synonyms for unnatural include: abnormal, strange, uncommon, supernatural, inexplicable and extraordinary. These are the some of the descriptions that make up what we are in Christ. We need to be unnatural in a natural world. Why is it necessary and how we can do it?
1) Jesus was unnatural. Jesus was unconventional in the way he did things.
• The way he taught. Matt. 7:28-29. The way the Rabbis of the day taught was humanistic and traditional. The way Jesus taught was divine and unnatural and the people were amazed. Matt. 22:23-33. The religious sect the Sadducees thought they were going to trip Jesus up. They used Deut. 25:5-6 as a basis for their argument regarding marriage in heaven. Although the argument may have trapped most, it didn’t trap Jesus. He put them in their place, highlighting their lack of understanding. The crowds were astonished; they had never seen anything like it.
• The way he acted. Matt. 9:9-13. It was unconventional, unnatural for a teacher to be seen sharing a meal with “sinners”. Jesus put them in their place, showing it was this unnatural behavior which was the better thing. Jesus acted unnaturally around women as well. When he ministered to the woman at the well, she was surprised and said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink? She said this because in that day it was unnatural for Jews to associate with Samaritans. Also, it was unnatural for Jesus, a Rabbi, to be seen talking with a woman alone in public. But Jesus broke the natural barriers for the purpose of God. He broke the natural traditions with unnatural truth. Matt. 20:20-28. James and John were exhibiting natural behavior-they wanted to be first. They wanted to be served. Jesus, the unnatural one, was saying flip it around. Instead of having the desire to be first, instead of pushing to be served, humble yourselves and become a servant-like me. (Washing the disciples’ feet).
• The way he handled situations. Luke 20:19-26. These religious leaders thought they were going to be able to trap him with their cunning ability. But Jesus was unnatural in his answer, he saw right through their deception and it blew them away. Matt. 26:52-54 [set-up]. Jesus could’ve called down legions of angels to rescue him in the garden instead of allowing himself to be arrested. It’s unnatural to have the power to free ourselves from a difficult situation and not exercise it.
2) We are called to be unnatural. Rom. 12:2.We are called to go against the flow, to stand out and stand up for Christ. We are called to transform, not conform. We are not supposed to follow the crowd we’re supposed to follow Christ. When Satan can get Christians to blend in with the world then he’s accomplished his goal of rendering God’s people ineffective and unproductive. If we don’t stand out from the world what hope do we have of changing the world? This isn’t about being egotistical and thinking we’re better than. Not better-different. Not better in a narcissistic way but indeed offering a better way of living. But if our living is not unnatural what incentive is there for someone to want to escape the natural? What are the unnatural characteristics that will stand out in a natural world?
• Fruit of the Spirit. Gal. 5:16-26. The acts of the sinful nature are the natural. But we are called to live by the Spirit, exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit. These attributes stand out. Showing true love to a world that doesn’t know what love is stands out. Being peaceful in a world of unrest stands out. Being joyful in a depressed and despondent world stands out. Being joyful when we face trials (James 1:2) is unnatural. It’s unnatural to have a positive attitude all the time. Think about it. Ever have one of those people who are always smiling? Always seem happy? Doesn’t that seem unnatural to you? We cop an attitude over their positive attitude and ask disdainfully, “what are you so happy about”? Like there’s something wrong with that. All these unnatural traits stand out because these are the things that are lacking; the things that everyone in the world is looking for but unable to find. These are the things that refresh the soul. The fruit of the Spirit that feeds and nourishes the soul. In these we find the fullness of life that everyone so desperately needs. The fruit of the Spirit is unnatural.
• Generosity. 2nd Cor. 8:1-4. Look at all the unnatural aspects of their generosity. First, being generous is unnatural because it’s natural to be selfish. But aside from that we see that they were under a severe trial and in poverty themselves; yet they were joyful. Therefore, they were willing, despite their circumstances, to be generous. They even gave beyond their ability, beyond what they were able, which tells me that they didn’t give from their abundance, but they gave sacrificially. And they did this without being pressured or prodded to do so. In fact, they urgently pleaded to give. They saw it as a privilege not a burden to be generous. Their generosity was unexpected, uncommon and unnatural.