I love the incredible of life.
Bridges suspended 30 stories up between canyons…sign me up.
Sliding down a skeleton sled at breakneck speed…bring it on.
Eating food that is unidentifiable but connects me to the culture it comes from…yes, please.
What incredible things speak to you? Someone’s story of non-coincidences? Weird but true trivia facts? Famous or not-so-famous accounts of someone’s sheer will and determination to survive or thrive, win or overcome?
I love all the stories. I bawl at Olympic special segments about athletes’ moms. I gawk at biographies. Sometimes we doubt, sometimes we let our reason in to spoil the party, but some things are just incredible and if we can’t see it, that is just a little sad.
One thing is for certain though: There is no incredible like God incredible.
In Acts 26, Paul is called to make a defense before King Agrippa. This is Herod Agrippa II, not to be confused with Herod Agrippa I. The Herods in general give me the heebie-jeebies. Any one of them would have been on the evil villain list for both Marvel and Justice League. The Herodian dynasty ruled the area of Israel on behalf of Rome…and they weren’t very nice about it.
Paul’s saga with disgruntled religious leaders and then the government of the day, including King Herod Agrippa II, can be read in its entirety in Acts 21-28. It is a truly disturbing and riveting narrative. It makes me hurt for those persecuted for the name of Jesus. Humankind has always been riveted by other people’s pain and suffering, and throughout history Christians have been used and abused as recipients of truly incredible violence and injustice. They aren’t the only religious group to have been so poorly treated, and God would have us call out the abuse of any person or any people.
As you’ll see, Paul pushed past the persecution, pushed past the poor leadership, the poor reasoning, and shared the Gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection to anyone who would listen. We can learn from him. In Acts 26:6-8, he speaks to Agrippa, and all the onlookers, about what is truly incredible.
Acts 26:6-8 —
6 And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, 7 to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! 8 Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?
Paul turns the attention where it belongs. He puts hope on trial, rather than himself. Paul points the people to the heart of the issue —
Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?
Why are we distrustful of the incredible? I believe the answer lies in our tendency toward unbelief rather than belief.
We don’t always want a God who raises the dead. We want a god who will do what we tell him, who gives us the power and control, rather than holds that power over life, death, or any other piece of our day. We are uncomfortable with a holy God, a righteous God…because at the end of the day, we want to be God. We want to be in charge of our own lives and our own plans, just like Agrippa, his sister Bernice, or any of those Jewish onlookers at Paul’s trial.
The Jews believed in the resurrection. It’s written all over the Old Testament. Paul is asking them a question of whether they want to live in what they know, or ignore it for what makes them appear more powerful, more incredible themselves for a moment.
Paul doesn’t just accuse though. Paul, as always, shares Incredible Hope.
God raises the dead.
God can bring Hope to any hopeless situation.
God brings Life to my deadness, to my dead faith, to my dead spirit.
God brings healing to my dead moods, my dead day, my dead relationships.
Let incredible Hope be on our lips. God resurrects. When we are confronted with persecution, whether our own or in the world, let Incredible Hope be our banner and our language.
Is it so incredible that God raises the dead? Nope.
Our God brings credible to what was once incredible, through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Look around today for our Incredible God of Hope at work. Share with us where you see Him!