Yes, I know. It should be one word: supernatural. But I’m dividing it for a reason.
The usual way of thinking about the supernatural is that it is separate from nature. That it is separate from the world with its natural laws. That it is separate from people with their physical bodies and human personalities. Even though miracles do happen, and even though we sometimes know God is speaking to us, we believe these things are not supposed to happen very often. When we get to heaven, everything will be supernatural, but here on earth, things are natural–99% of the time. So most of us think. So I used to think.
The first crack in that type of thinking came when I read the gospel of Luke for the sole purpose of becoming better acquainted with Jesus. As I read it, I had to admit Jesus did not play by the rule that the supernatural has no place in everyday life. Since then, reading other gospels, I noticed something else about Jesus: he was surprised, and a little upset, when his disciples did not expect the supernatural to happen–whenever.
37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:37-40 NIV).
The best way to explain what the Bible shows here is to use some illustrations–some parables, if you will.
Without wind, a sailboat merely bobs up and down on the waves. Without gas, a car stays parked. Without gasoline or electricity, an oven cannot turn a panful of batter into a cake.
There may be nothing supernatural in any of these examples. After all, a car is a natural object and gasoline comes from nature, as well. But they are examples of the Bible’s revelation that God created this natural world as one half of a divine equation.
Look at it this way: the natural world is like a computer–the hardware half of the equation. The supernatural presence and power of God is like the software that operates in it. God created us (the hardware) then breathed into us the breath of life (the software). Whether we are aware of it or not, his provision, protection, and guidance are with us every day.
When we get a revelation of this partnership, it’s like discovering apps that we didn’t know were on our computer. We can do things we had not dreamed possible. No, we’re not in heaven yet. But when we understand God’s place in our natural world, it’s like heaven on earth.
Let’s back up a minute. Aren’t unaided natural processes pretty remarkable all by themselves? Yes (although they’re not really unaided. I mean, God gave us the raw materials to construct boats and he gave us the wind to drive them). But using the natural stuff God gave us only gets us so far. Have you ever thought, There’s got to be more to life than this? That’s because there is. Do you have a deep, impossible dream? You’re glimpsing the super for your natural.
You know, even without gas, a car looks impressive. It even has some practical uses. A homeless family can sleep in it. With its rubber tires and metal body, it can keep a person safe from electrical shock during a thunderstorm.
But, are you satisfied with a car that doesn’t go somewhere? Isn’t “going somewhere” its main purpose?
What about gasoline? You can dampen a rag with it and wipe tar off your car. You can spray a bit of it on charcoal or wood to jump-start a fire. (Stay far away when you toss the match on it!) But oil refineries don’t work day and night to produce gasoline for these uses!
A car alone has its benefits, and gasoline alone has minor functions. But put them together, and–look out!
God did not create a great divide between the natural and the supernatural. Sin and satan caused that estrangement. Jesus came to re-unite us with God.
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God (1 Peter 3:18 NIV).
Notice–this does not say Christ died just to make it possible for us to go to heaven when we die. He mainly did it to bring us to God. To re-introduce us to the companionship and partnership with God that Adam and Eve had in the Garden of Eden.
Sin caused a detour. Jesus died to remove the effects of sin. It wasn’t his main mission. It was a necessary first step–to get us back on the road with him. To bring us back into a life in which God is king. To put the super back into our natural.