First Samuel 1 tells the story of Hannah, who is ridiculed by her husband’s other wife (Peninah) because she can’t have children. It’s likely that the only reason her husband (Elkanah) has a second wife is because Hannah can’t bear children to begin with. This wasn’t uncommon practice in the ancient Near East (see the Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar story in Genesis 16).

The text describes the relationship dynamic it this way:

And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her

1 Samual 1:6–7

Hannah, thankfully, doesn’t return evil for evil. Rather, Hannah goes to pray in the temple. Her prayer is interesting in that she doesn’t ask God to punish Peninah. In fact, in embodying the New Testament ethic to love your enemies, she doesn’t complain about Peninah at all in the course of the story. Rather, she asks God to open her womb. Hannah knows that if God can fix her internal problem, then her external problem will take care of itself.

As Hannah prayed in the temple, she did so silently in her heart while her lips were moving. “As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard” (1 Sam. 1:12–13).

This results in Eli the priest thinking that Hannah is drunk: “Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you” (1Sam. 1:13–14).

This isn’t only time in the Scriptures when the people of God seem drunk. This same thing happens in Acts 2 when God pours out the Holy Spirit on the disciples.

And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

Acts 2:1–13

What can we make of this? God’s work in people’s hearts is so radical that they seem like crazy drunk people. God’s work alters human behavior.

God’s people are supposed to be consumed with a passion for Him. This obsession that comes with utter abandonment to God makes God’s people seem odd, bizarre, or, in a word, different. This is simply holiness. This is what the word “holy” means: different.

Not everyone is willing to partake in this kind of radical work in their lives. For some, it’s just too embarrassing to embrace the radical work of God in their lives. They don’t want to took silly, or odd. They want to fit in. These aren’t ready for the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus speaks to this when he says,  

No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.

Prominent ancient theologian Cyprian was a new wineskin ready for new wine. Writing of his own transformation that came with his conversion, Cyprian wrote,

In my despair of better things I indulged my sins as if now proper and belonging to me. But afterwards, when the stain of my past life has been washed away by the aid of the water of regeneration, a light from above poured itself upon my chastened and pure heart; afterwards when I had drunk of the Spirit from heaven, a second birth restored me into a new man; immediately in a marvelous manner doubtful matters clarified themselves, the closed opened, the shadowy shone with light, what seemed impossible was able to be accomplished.”[1]

Cyprian

Are you ready to be weirdo for Jesus? Lord, make us as bizarre as it takes to bring your name glory.


[1] Cyprian, To Donatus, chap. 4, FC 36, pp. 9, 10; cf. Theodotus, Excerpts, ANF VIII), 44.


Matt Ayars

President of Wesley Biblical Seminary

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