2 + 2 = 3

Hey all,

I’m bringing you a bonus blog post this month because, besides having already scheduled the content for my other two posts in my mind, I had a dream.

And I wouldn’t say it was quite an “I had a dream from the LORD” kind of thing, but I did wake up feeling so passionate for God and the Bible that I think I’ll share.

It took place in a college classroom. I was sitting around a table with several other people and we were answering questions about the Bible or God from the students in the seats. I don’t remember why we were there, what the previous questions were, or how I possibly managed to make the cut in the first place, but at some point, one of the students said: “Two plus two equals four.”

He said it in a way that made it seem very obvious, as if everyone in the room should naturally agree with him, which, in math, is fair. But he wasn’t talking about math, he was talking about the Bible, about how some point of logic he had must be true, and though I don’t remember exactly what his point was (I’m almost positive it was a misconception), I do remember my hand shooting up in the air to provide a response, which through the fog of sleep and formatting for a blog, looked approximately like this:

I disagree. The Bible is full of moments where two and two do not equal four.

I’ve been listening to a couple of podcasts by Tim Mackie lately. One is The Bible Project, which Tim co-hosts and is a really great high-level look at different books or parts of the Bible. The other is Exploring My Strange Bible, a collection of Tim’s sermons, and in the first one of those, he talks about Jonah. Jonah is a prophet, so he talks about how from the first lines, you expect that it’s a book about his prophecies, how he’s a great man of God, but he’s actually the worst character in the whole book. Man of God, two, plus prophet, two, does not equal four, a book of prophecies, but three, a story about God working with a terrible man. God sends Jonah to go to the Ninevites because their wickedness has come before him (Jonah 1:2), so you think sure, God is going to destroy them, but no, it isn’t four (Righteous God + Wicked People = Destruction), it’s three, God trying to rescue them, to be their God and have relationship with them, and Jonah knows it. The Samaritan woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, Jesus the Messiah who was supposed to be a great military leader to chase out the Romans dying on a cross. Time and again the Bible defies our expectations, the worldly math and logic we try to impose on it. We think we know what the Bible says (God is some grumpy old man in the sky who destroys everyone who makes Him mad except when they follow Jesus), but across all of those times when He uses flawed, deeply flawed, or outcast people like David or Rahab or one of any other myriad options, to do his will, we see something different entirely. Our math, what we expect, is wrong, and the Bible is surprising.

Now it’s around this time that I woke up, the same kind of passion that I know would have had me in tears had this been in real life thrumming through my chest, but I think that that’s really all I needed. In the next few minutes as I thought about it, as the rest of my mini-sermon played out in my mind, and as the rest of the dream faded away, I realized once again how amazing the Bible is, how fun and surprising God is and as ever, what a privilege it is to get to wrestle with His word, because it is complicated, it can be difficult, but it is so, so worth it.

And I know it’s not a perfect metaphor, as God’s logic really does add up to four and it’s really our math that’s off, but I think it’s still useful, and it’s comforting to know that if I really go for it, if I really go toe to toe with the Almighty God of the Universe, well, between Him and me, we can always know who’s going to win.

So go forth, read the Bible, and find out what it really says. I hope in some way this helps you. Have fun!

So, how about you? Has God ever talked to you in a dream? What about your Bible? Ever been taken by surprise?

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