But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them (of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them) because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated.—1 Corinthians 2:14
Many non-Christians don’t really understand the gospel. This isn’t a new thing that is unique to our day. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he pointed out that the Greeks thought it was foolish. And to the natural mind, it is. God sent Jesus, the sinless One, to earth for the express purpose of dying for wicked, sinful people. To unbelievers that is foolish. The natural man cannot understand the power of the gospel—it can only be “spiritually discerned.”
This is just as true in daily living. Sometimes God speaks to us, and if we try to explain it to people who don’t know Jesus, it doesn’t make sense. For example, I remember one couple that went to Africa as missionaries. They had no denomination or large church behind them, providing support. They sold everything they owned, including their wedding rings.
“Their wedding rings?” a skeptical relative asked. “You mean God wouldn’t provide for you, so you had to do it yourself?”
The wife smiled. “No, I think we had to decide if comfort and having things like everyone else was more important than serving Jesus.” The couple never doubted they were doing the right thing, but it never made sense to the skeptical relative.
It is difficult for many people to hear God speak and to obey without question. But Jesus did just that—and not only on the cross. John 4 relates the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. What most modern readers don’t get is the introduction to the story: “It was necessary for Him to go through Samaria” (John 4:4). Jesus had been in Jerusalem, and He wanted to go north to Galilee. The country of the Samaritans was in between, but Jesus didn’t have to take the route that passed that way. He could have taken another route and avoided going through Samaria. Most Jews avoided going through Samaria because they hated the Samaritans for mixing and marrying with people from other nations.
But Jesus went to Samaria, even though it wasn’t what we would have called the normal or reasonable thing to do. He went because there was a woman—and eventually a whole village—that needed to hear the message that only He could deliver.
The natural people—those whose minds have not been enlightened by the Holy Spirit—scoff at us. What we do doesn’t always make sense to them. But then, who says our actions have to make sense? The biblical principle is that the natural or carnal mind doesn’t understand spiritual things. Too often, a thought comes to us that we push aside, saying, This doesn’t make any sense, and we actually ignore divine guidance. It’s true, of course, that the devil can flood our minds with wild thoughts, but if we pray and open ourselves to the Spirit, we soon know the difference.
Consider the story of Peter who had fished all night and caught nothing. Jesus, a carpenter, came along and told him, a professional fisherman, “Put out into the deep [water], and lower your nets for a haul” (Luke 5:4).
Peter reasoned with Jesus, reminding Him that they had worked all night and caught nothing. But to his credit, Peter, exhausted from a long and unsuccessful night’s work, heard the Lord. I’ll say it again, Peter heard the Lord and said, “But on the ground of Your word, I will lower the nets [again]” (v. 5). And Peter was not disappointed. They caught so many fish that the nets almost broke.
This is an important principle of obedience that we must grasp: obey instead of reasoning. Or as one of my friends calls it, “The Nevertheless Principle.” She says that sometimes she feels God leading her to do things that don’t always make a lot of sense. When she hears herself expressing that sentiment, she quickly adds, “Nevertheless.” Then she obeys.
That is really all God asks of us: to obey instead of reasoning.
Wise and wonderful God, sometimes things don’t make sense to me, but nevertheless, I want to be in Your will. Help me to develop spiritual discernment, and don’t let me miss a divine opportunity to serve You. Teach me to trust You more, and help me to obey You quickly instead of trying to reason things out. Thank You for hearing me today. Amen.