The "S" Word
(Post 1 of 10 in The "S" Word series)
When you hear the word “supernatural,” what is the first thought that comes to your mind?
Now, when you think about “supernatural” in regard to the Bible, what is the first verse or story from scripture that comes to your mind?
I’ve listened to one sermon and have been in two conversations recently where I’ve sensed a real fear when the term “supernatural” is used. This “S” word is not exactly a “bad word” for believers, but a concept that seems to be really unsettling for many.
One of my friends recently made this statement:"My theology has room for the supernatural, but we shouldn’t base our theology on the supernatural.”
At first, I thought it was a solid statement. It seemed true and balanced. But the more I thought about it, the more my thought was, “I actually think that’s wrong. Most, if not all, of our faith is based upon the supernatural work of God in some form.”
I started making a list and I was actually very surprised. Take a look at these events and concepts crucial to our faith. Would you agree that they are all supernatural—not possible through purely natural or human means?
The creation of this world that we live in
Many of the Old Testament stories like the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, Daniel in the Lion’s Den, or God’s interactive relationship with Moses or Noah
Jesus’s birth, life, and ministry: born to a virgin, his baptism, and all of the miracles and healings that came during his ministry
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead
The life of the early Church in Acts: the coming of the Holy Spirit, Paul’s conversion, healings, and other miracles
The experience of the believer: being born again so that you see and enter the Kingdom of God, forgiveness of sins, receiving of grace and mercy, and emotional and physical healing
God’s promised work in our lives that we can actually become like Jesus, be hidden in him, and transformed into something new
Jesus’s promise to send the Holy Spirit which will indwell us and serve as our Helper
Scripture being “God breathed”
The Kingdom of God
Isn't that kind of wild? And this list could go on and on. Like I said, when I started thinking through it and starting making this list, I was wondering why I had never thought about all of this being supernatural before.
If you agree that all of the above is supernatural, could it be that our definition of supernatural is the actual problem? What I’ve observed is that when the supernatural is mentioned, people often associate the word with “spiritual” practices that feel overly emotional, manipulative, spooky, or just a little crazy. Those practices fit into the supernatural category, but they are less common experiences. Now, is some of this stuff outside of our typical experience? Yes! Because of that, does some of it seem a little weird? Yes! These less common, "weird" experiences are supernatural, but so is the birth of Jesus, forgiveness, being born again, salvation, the resurrection, the Holy Spirit—I could go on and on. Although we sometimes miss it, the truth is that our entire faith is based on a belief in the supernatural.
So instead of associating supernatural with spooky, wacky, or extreme, what if we normalized it? Said another way, what if we realized that the supernatural is actually normal and the basis of our faith? What if we could live naturally supernatural lives?
One way Dallas Willard describes salvation is that you are “saved from a mere fleshly existence in which your spirit is dead.” He references being born again, that our spirits are awakened and we begin living a “spiritual life.” We go from living just a natural or fleshly life, to one that is beyond the natural, where our spirits are awakened and we get to interact with a Spiritual Being. This is just the beginning of the naturally supernatural life I am talking about. From being born again, to having interactive relationship with the Trinity, to experiencing actual transformation of your heart, soul, and mind, to partnering with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in bringing the Kingdom to earth with the power and spiritual authority we have been delegated, it is all supernatural.
So for the 10 weeks of this series, we are going to be exploring a lot of topics, scripture, and thoughts regarding the supernatural. My hope is that we can gain more awareness of our beliefs, expose what is behind the fear and hesitancy, and ultimately move toward with this vision of living naturally supernatural lives.
So what do you think about all of this? I would love to get some dialogue going in the comments below or on Facebook. Here are some potential questions for discussion:
Before reading this, how would you have defined the supernatural?
As you look at the list above, which of those things surprised you as being supernatural?
Do you think a "naturally supernatural" life is possible?
What could change in the current state of the Church and the world if we shifted from a theology with “room” for the supernatural to a theology that’s based on it?
Take some time and list out the ways you have experienced God. Are there any ways you would like to experience him more fully? Spend some time with Him and talk to him about it.
As you think about the people you know, is there anybody that lives this way, naturally supernatural? If so, take some time to journal and process what you have observed. Ask God about that person and see what He has to say.