By Skylar Spradlin
Martin Luther once referred to God as the “Hidden God.” He wasn’t saying that God isn’t knowable. By His grace and infinite wisdom, God has thoroughly revealed Himself in both creation and His Word. We can know God because God has made Himself known. So what was Luther referring to when he called God the “Hidden God”?
Luther was highlighting the discrepancy between our expectations of how God works and how He actually works. As Herman Selderhuis points out in his book “Martin Luther: A Spiritual Biography,” this “Hidden God” hides Himself in places like a manager as a baby and on a cross with criminals.
Few realized the Christ would come, not in pomp or power, but in humility, frailty, and infancy. Even fewer realized the Christ would conquer, not by army, sword, or uprising, but by a cross. And these unexpected workings of God aren’t unique to the birth or death of Christ. This is how God has worked all throughout history.
He chose an obscure man named Abram from whom to build a nation, through which all the families of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3). He chose a shepherd boy to be a king and bring forth the line of the Messiah. He chose outcasts to be prophets. He chose a people that were small and weak to be His people (Deuteronomy 7:6-11).God’s works and ways are not always as we expect. He does not work according to worldly standards. — @SkylarSpradlin Click To Tweet
He chose ordinary, uneducated fishermen to establish His church. He chose to conquer the world by spreading a message from person to person. It is no wonder that Paul would say, “Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one may boast in his presence,” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29, CSB).
God’s works and ways are not always as we expect. He does not work according to worldly standards. He is not confined to human reason or logic. He works, not according to social precepts, but according to His own goodness and will.
So what does this mean for us? We should not ignore or neglect the small, ordinary, and simple moments of life. God doesn’t necessarily flaunt Himself in the big, grand events of the day, but He is working, and dare we say hiding, in the mundane and ordinary aspects of our lives.God doesn’t necessarily flaunt Himself in the big, grand events of the day, but He is working, and dare we say hiding, in the mundane and ordinary aspects of our lives. — @SkylarSpradlin Click To Tweet
The big, extraordinary, and significant moments of life are not the only ones that count. Questions about life, meaning, and purpose in daily living have increased in the minds of most Americans in the past decade. A study from Lifeway Research found that most Americans (57%) say they wonder, “How can I find more meaning and purpose in my life?” at least monthly, with more than one in five saying they consider the question daily (21%) or weekly (21%). A decade ago, 51% said they wonder about finding meaning and purpose at least monthly, 18% said they think about it daily, and 19% said they think about it weekly. Over the past 10 years, more people are struggling with finding meaning and purpose in life.
“In the midst of such a discouraging season, fewer Americans are convinced there is something more to this life than their daily activities,” Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research said.
Too often we believe our ordinary, daily tasks hold no true meaning or purpose. In other words, we don’t find God, the source of meaning and purpose, in these mundane moments.
Not only is this true for the average person, but it’s especially true for the pastor who longs to be mightily used by God in ministry yet finds himself burdened by the ordinary tasks of operating a church.
Like many in Jesus’s day, we tend to believe that God only works in the public, large, and revival-like moments of life, so we see ordinary, pastoral tasks—writing notes, making house calls, setting up tables and chairs, folding bulletins—as unimportant, unspiritual, and unproductive.We tend to believe that God only works in the large, public moments of life, so we treat the ordinary, daily pastoral tasks as unimportant, unspiritual, and unproductive. Click To Tweet
The problem with such thinking is two-fold. First, we miss out on regular moments of sanctification as we witness God working around us. God often increases our patience, provides us with relationship building conversations, and helps us slow down from the rush of ministry with these seemingly menial tasks.
Second, most of our lives are relegated to the ordinary and mundane. If we don’t have a proper understanding of the mundane days—a framework for God working in normal life—then we can feel hopeless, disconnected from God, and even like second class pastors because the “big things” aren’t happening in our lives.
The Hidden God
Therefore, it is good for us to remember that God hides Himself in the ordinary. He sanctifies us as we clean the church building. He conforms us to the image of His Son as we respond to emails and balance the budget. He makes us into a blazing light of gospel glory as we do our ordinary, even burdensome, administrative tasks. He shows us His wonderful goodness as we make copies for meetings, help change a widow’s light bulbs, and even talk about the weather over coffee at the local cafe.Don’t believe that God only works through the spectacular. Instead, realize it is spectacular that God is with us in the ordinary moments of every day. — @SkylarSpradlin Click To Tweet
If God chose to be found in a manger, chose to win the victory through death on a cross, chose a shepherd to be a king, chose fishermen to build His church, then surely He can work in the ordinary moments and ordinary ways of our lives.
God often does things we don’t expect, at times we don’t expect, and in ways we don’t expect. That is who He is. That is how He works. And that is what He tells us: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.’ This is the Lord’s declaration. ‘For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9, CSB).
Don’t believe that God only works through the spectacular. Instead, realize it is spectacular that God is with us in the ordinary moments of every day.
Skylar is the lead pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Weatherford, Oklahoma. He’s earning his Masters of Divinity from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is the co-host of “Doctrine & Doxology” a weekly podcast geared toward helping Christians think biblically.