All Natural, Not Me…
I was reading this morning in 1 Corinthians and came across Paul’s use of the word “natural” and had my mind strangely, (real strangely!), thrown back to my first visit to a health food store. Now to understand the story you need to think 70s…and ask yourself where the hippies of the 60s went when they decided that they would have to work for a living—well it seems that after all the spots were filled in Washington some found themselves in the health food business. Now in the 70’s “all natural” on the door of a health food store not only had something to say about the food but it seemed to say something about the hygiene practices of the employees. Conclusion… “all natural” may or may not be something to brag about.
The French philosopher John Jacque Rousseau also had a love for all things natural and that love fathered many of the plagues of our modern world. Rousseau taught that the natural was better. Development of resources was an evil, civilization ruins much of what is good in humanity, and the least influenced by culture, religion, or any construct of humans, the better off we would all be. He exalted nature as it is untouched by man. Natural seemed to be the very best of the best to our friend John.
But for Paul, natural is not necessarily a good thing and certainly not in the context of his discussion with the Corinthians. The natural man that Paul speaks of in his letter to the Corinthians is the man born as a child of Adam who because of his fallen estate is unable and unwilling to seek God. Natural speaks to his not being changed by God—he is on his own, left in his fallen state. This man, the natural man, is unable to understand the Word of God and he is not able to grasp the gospel in faith—his heart is turned against God and his will is the slave of his own sin nature. Natural, here, is without the grace of God. And this for the Corinthians and for us is a grand reminder of the vast difference between us and the ordinary, everyday natural people. It is not just the French philosophers and the hygienically challenged that stand apart from us, but all men who have not put faith in the Christ of the gospel are of a different world. We are un-natural in their eyes and are of a different species then they—we are not sons of Adam but rather sons of God.
It should not surprise us when the world thinks we are a bit odd, weird, or just real strange….and it ought to worry us when we fit in to the world around us. “All-Natural” is not a sub text that I find appealing for the church or the saint. And even though there are plenty of oddities we each own that do not give us cause for rejoicing, it is a good thing to stand apart from the world being in it but not of it. And when we find ourselves out of step with those around us it is a good thing to remember that it is a good thing to be in step with our Savior. We are to live toward the hearing of that final “well done good and faithful servant”, and then we will see clearly that holiness is not out of fashion it is just not natural.
Love God, live holy, be weird.