Sometimes, especially if you’re George, you’ve just got to do stuff exactly the opposite of what your instincts tell you. Sometimes only total weirdness will work.
Music plays. Elaine comes thru the door into Jerry’s living room (although in this case, it’s not Jerry’s house, but just the stage). She dances in, then dances her way off.
Well, that was sort of opposite of how one would want to dance, if one were trying to impress someone. But for those who know Elaine, well, that’s just how she dances – that’s right – completely opposite of how anyone else might dance.
Well, what in the world does this have to do with God? I mean, this is funny and all, but this is Lent – I thought we were supposed to be focused on an examination of our lives – last Sunday was good – we talked about a life of nothing and compared it with living lives of something – living lives of significance and meaning and purpose. That was Lent. This is … well, what is it? The Opposite.
NIV 1 Corinthians 1:27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
God is nothing but a God of opposites. George is on to something … although I guarantee you that he has no clue what he’s on to. This Seinfeld show was just supposed to be funny, but in fact it illustrates precisely how God acts every day of His life! Completely opposite of how you’d expect Him to act.
God starts out with Adam in the Garden of Eden.
NIV Genesis 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."
And what happens? Adam eats from that one stinkin’ tree from which he’s not supposed to eat, and what does God do? Kills him on the spot and starts over! No! That’s what you’d expect. When you or I start to create something, and right away it’s a mess, we crumple it up and throw it away and start over. That’s normal. That’s natural. And so God does the … Opposite. God says, “well, alright. I love you. But you’re a screw-up. Let’s see how I can salvage this. Oh my, to salvage this I’ve got to give up my Son to die??? NO WAY!” No, that would be normal. That’s what you’d expect. So God does the … Opposite.
Well, tons of time passes, and along comes Abraham – God’s chosen man. And God makes this promise to Abraham, who we know from history as the father of the people of Israel:
NIV Genesis 15:5 He God took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars-- if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."
Well, one thing led to another and Abraham wound up to be 100 years old and Sarah his wife was 90 years old when she finally got pregnant. Seen any 90 year old pregnant ladies lately? Not a pretty sight. But Sarah was sure excited, because she’d been waiting for 75 years to have a kid, and finally one came along … because God doesn’t tend to do what’s normal or usual. God tends to do the … Opposite.
Abraham and Sarah have a son, Isaac, who marries Rebecca. And they have twin boys – usually the older one gets the inheritance and the younger one serves him. But from the time those kids were in Rebecca’s womb …
NIV Genesis 25:23 The LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger."
Because God doesn’t do things the normal way. God does the … Opposite.
Well we could go on and on here – we’re only in Genesis and we’ve got 65 books of the Bible to go. There’s the whole choice of Moses to lead God’s people out of Egypt – a guy who claims not to be able to give a speech is expected to lead 2 million people! Because God does the … Opposite.
And of course there’s the fact that there is this powerful nation called Egypt, and there’s all these slaves, called Israel. Any normal person would say that if you’ve going to do something great, you start with the great nation and not the nation of slaves. But God is not normal – He does the … Opposite.
And then there’s this great story of Gideon, in the Old Testament book of Judges. At that time God’s people were being oppressed by the Midianites, and Gideon was whining and moaning about this state of affairs to God.
NIV Judges 6:14 The LORD turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?" 15 "But Lord," Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." 16 The LORD answered, "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together."
So Gideon got 32,000 men together to form this army to fight the Midianites. But check out what God does, because God is not normal:
NIV Judges 7:2 The LORD said to Gideon, "You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands.
And so God whittles that army down from 32,000 to 300 men, this puny little group … and God takes a look at that little group and says, “OK, that’s weird enough. Let’s go.” And those 300 go and conquer a whole nation … because God always does things the … Opposite.
You see, our friend George is on to something here. And of course the opposite of all opposites is Jesus Himself. The King, born not in a castle but in a stable. The richest person ever born, born into poverty. The creator of the world, with no place to call home. The almighty, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords … nailed to a cross. He could have come down, but He stayed there just the same, because that was what was decided back even before God started doing the Opposite back there with Adam in the Garden of Eden. And Jesus died there on that cross and in so doing won the victory of all victories. Only God could figure out how by dying, a person could actually win, because God is the God of … Opposites.
And now, listen to this – how bizarre is this – Jesus died, and because of that death, you are now going to live forever. If you just think about that logically, it is utter nonsense. That’s what St. Paul says:
NIV 1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-- and the things that are not-- to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.
Sounds pretty opposite to me. So that’s God. And that’s your salvation. You can count on it. You do count on it, I hope.
NIV Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Last I checked, God created you in His image. And, as we just said, God paid a high price, the blood of Jesus, to buy you back from death and to give you life. But check out how everyone out there lives. Like God, their creator? Like they’ve been bought with a price? You seen the world lately??? Yikes – not much godliness there. Nope – day after day we live in a world where normal is broke. Take a look at your life this week – are you living normal, or are you living like God? Are you living Opposite, or living normal?
You’re at the office. You walk over to get a cup of coffee, and three people are standing around – the lead cat is away so the mice will play. They are talking and laughing and just having a grand old time at the big guy’s expense. What do you do? I’ll tell you what’s natural, cause I’ve done it many times. But this week, what will you do?
Driving down 56th street on the way into work – running late – gotta get going. Oh my gosh, granny’s up ahead and she is obviously going to the hair salon appointment at 10! What are you gonna do? The normal thing? To keep me from doing the normal thing, somebody once gave me this big button for my dashboard – when somebody screwed up in front of me or got me mad, I could hit this button and suddenly there was the sound of a missile being fired, followed a few seconds later by this loud explosion. It was awesome! But pretty normal. This week, what will you do? Will you do the Opposite? Pray for granny … and wave hi as you zip by in the breakdown lane?
Just came from that party on Friday night – how’d you make out? Or maybe you shouldn’t have been making out. But how’d you do? Drink like everyone else? Cuss like everyone else? Wear that low-cut dress and then yell at the guys for looking? Well, those things are pretty normal. Everybody else does them. But hey, guess what – you have been loved and saved by a God who is incredibly Opposite. He’s called you to be His own … so how ‘bout next Friday night being weird for a change. Try totally Opposite. How ‘bout letting Jesus live in you? George found his Victoria; you just might find that there are others out there who are pretty tired of normal.
Come home after a long day at work. Plop down in the chair with a beer and the remote. Wow – that’s original! Meanwhile Johnny’s waiting to play. What would happen if you just tried on weird for a week? Complete Opposite. Skip the beer and the TV, and shoot some hoops. By the power of Jesus in you. As we’ll see next week, that’s guaranteed to bring fulfillment, or as we talked of last week, guaranteed to turn a life of Nothing into a life of Something.
So how are you going to live? Normal? Or Opposite? Check out how the saints of old lived:
NIV Hebrews 11:13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.
- Strangers. The Opposite of normal. God is a God of Opposites. He doesn’t make us love Him first; no, He first loves us. He doesn’t make us come to Him; no, He comes to us. He doesn’t make us serve Him; no, He serves us. Remember this – you are made in the image of God. And you’ve been saved from a life of Nothing; given a life of Something.
NIV Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Sermon Topics: Parable Preaching