Common sense is a form of the common grace God has given to humanity. When we see a burner on the stove that is glowing red, we don’t touch it – assuming it is hot. When we see a thunderstorm brewing on the horizon, we don’t start a round of golf – knowing that the metal clubs in our hands would be all too attractive for a stray bolt of lightning. Patterns in nature and our experience in practice help us form expectations from which we interact with the world around us. It is a blessing that we have instincts that guide and protect.
This phenomena is not new to us in the 21st century, it has been around since the beginning of time. 2,000 years ago, Joseph (Jesus’ earthly father) also had common sense, informed by the patterns he had experienced in the world. That is why when Joseph hears that Mary is pregnant he assumes she has slept with another man. Being a noble man whose relationship with Mary was pure, Joseph knew he could not be the father, but common sense told him that some other dude must be responsible. This made all the sense in the world to Joseph.
Only thing is … Joseph was wrong. Mary had not been sleeping around. The child was from a supernatural origin – a virgin conception.
The way God lets Joseph know about this is through an angelic visitation. In Matthew 1:20-25, an angel meets with Joseph and reveals that Joseph’s instincts (in this instance) are wrong, because God had intervened. The child was not a cause for shame, but was the Savior of the world! Thankfully Joseph listened to God’s proclamation, even when it went against his first instincts.
As we reflect on this principle today, I know that we will not be visited by angels with similar announcements in our lives. That said, all us will encounter things that don’t jive with our instincts. We think that salvation has to be about us being “good enough.” We assume that certain behaviors the Bible calls sin can never be overcome in our lives. We imagine that there is no way for certain people to really experience life change. We just assume that is the case, because in our lives, we have seen patterns confirming the rationale of these opinions. If you are thinking along these lines today, may you be visited by the revelation of Scripture today to remind you what God can really do.
- “For it is by grace that you have been saved through faith. It is a gift of God. Not as a result of works that no one should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is not about being good enough, salvation is about God’s goodness and grace saving us in spite of us … simply as we respond in faith.
- “… the body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.” (Romans 6:6) “walk by the Spirit and you will in no way carry out the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). Because of what Jesus has done for us, we HAVE BEEN liberated from sin’s necessary rule in our lives, and by faith, we can depend on the Spirit’s power to guide us away from even the strongest of temptations.
- Paul was a persecutor of the church. But Jesus changed Him. This lets us know that He can change us as well!
Thankfully God gives us common sense … but sometimes things don’t fit the pattern. In these cases God gives us special revelation in the Scriptures (just like the special revelation God gave to Joseph through the angel) to recalibrate our thinking and let us know of a greater reality.
Like Joseph, have the courage to take God at His Word this holiday season.