I saw and used one for the first time when I was six. A little, multicolored, woven bamboo tube that you place your index fingers into and pull slightly, thus locking them in place. Any effort to extricate your digits by logical means (read: pulling), only draws the bamboo strips more tightly around your fingers. I’m speaking of the dreaded Chinese finger trap. I remember trying in vain to free myself as my mother watched bemusedly. No matter how hard I pulled, I couldn’t get loose.
The way you remove a finger trap is counterintuitive; you push your fingers in farther and then slide the bamboo sleeve from them. It doesn’t seem to make much sense approaching the problem that way, and that’s why we get trapped. We know how things should work, or at least, we think we know how things should work, but sometimes the best answer defies what we think should be true.
The Kingdom of God is counterintuitive, at least to humanity’s idea of logic. Over and over again we find events and teachings in the Bible that turn our reasoning topsy-turvy.
Take being blessed for example. We have our own idea of what it means to be “blessed.” The word in the New Testament often carries with it the idea of being “spiritually happy.” Happiness is a good thing. I like that. I want that. What does it look like? Jesus tells us in Matthew 5: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake…” (vs. 10,11). Seems like this contradicts my usual idea of what it means to be happy and blessed. But this is par for the course when we speak of the Kingdom of God…up is often down, down is usually up, and what we think should be turns out to be the opposite. Just consider the life of Jesus…
The Sovereign King of the Universe was born as a baby surrounded by livestock.
The disciples argued over who was the greatest among them during the Last Supper, and Jesus, taking on the role of the lowliest servant, washed their feet.
Jesus was judged by earthly trials, yet is the Judge of all.
In order to offer eternal life to man, He died.
This is why, when confronted with the truths of God, we often scratch our heads and think, “This doesn’t make much sense.” So we try to figure it out by pulling and tugging and fighting and stretching it to fit our own mindset. But life in the Kingdom of God doesn’t tend to line up easily with human thought. That’s why we must restrain from fighting against His working and willingly surrender to it. We trap ourselves when begin to think we can approach Him or understand Him on our terms alone.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Is. 55:8,9).