‘Keep It Strange Sapphira’

The Bible is a strange book.

Its strangeness is because of its age, the cultures it reflects, the stories it tells, the vocation we’re to live out and above all of the God it speaks of. One of the peculiar assumptions we can make about the Bible is to assume that it’s not strange. We hear Tyndale wish for the ploughboy to be able to read the Bible in his own language and it is then only a small step to assume that to be able to read it is to not find it a strange book, when in fact the reverse is true.

When we open the Bible’s pages it isn’t strange to feel as if we’ve been pushed into the deep end of a pool. The bottomless depths of the creation stories are matched by the weird and wonderful stories of Gardens and snakes, sibling rivalry and murder, arks and floods and towers and confusion. The strangeness doesn’t stop there, either. You have God calling a pensioner to be the father of nations. You have a refugee princeling hearing God speak from a burning bush. You have seas parting, mountains burning, food falling, waters pouring and we’re hardly past page 90 of my Bible.

Strangely this sense of strangeness throws and disorientates us. We have been taught for too long to consider the Bible as not a strange book. We’ve forgotten it tells the strange story of God’s redeeming love through the strangeness of the cross and resurrection. Festus was right in Acts 26:24 to say to Paul that all of his learning had driven him mad as Paul’s story sounded too strange to this Roman Procurator.

Therefore, when we read this book be on the lookout for strangeness, but not only within it. As we read it, the strange Spirit who inspired the writers will move strangely within our hearts teaching us to see the world around us in a different way. He will dare us to believe that God is with us in our daily lives. He will dare us to believe that God is working his purposes out in this world. He will dare us to believe that Jesus is our rock, our refuge and our shelter.

The Bible is a strange book because the God of whom it speaks is truly strange. If you think I’ve used the word ‘strange’ too much then let’s think of it this way. Let’s use the word ‘Holy’ instead.

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