22 September 2010

Why do we see so few miracles and healings today?

Before Jesus showed up in the flesh, miracles and healings seemed to occur only for a few people, at least on any kind of regular basis. But Jesus did them routinely. In fact, John surmised that if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. (Jn 21/25, NIV). And so did his early followers. These still occur in third world areas today, and occasionally in the more developed countries. But why are they so infrequent?
I believe there are three main problems: lack of faith, lack of hunger and desperation, and the western mindset in general.
  1. Lack of faith / misplaced faith
    • Even Jesus could do few miracles (he merely laid his hands on some sick and healed them) some places because of a lack of faith. (Mk 6/5, Mt 13/58)
    • As a rule, western, modern cultures have little faith in God. Missionaries report far more miracles and healings in parts of the world where people have not been taught not to have faith in God.
    • As a culture, we seem to have faith in everything but God-- science, doctors, positive energy, crystals, good thoughts and vibes, politics, money, the system. So we trust in those rather than God.
  2. Lack of hunger / desperation
    • We always have a fallback plan (or several) such as doctors. So even if we want to be healed or see a miracle, we often don't really care if God does it, because we have a Plan B. That's assuming God isn't already Plan X, to be used only when all others fail.
    • Like many people in Jesus' time, we view miracles more as entertainment, or at best demands for proof that we will then attempt to analyze away, than something necessary or which we care about. Jesus referred those people the sign of Jonah-- the three days he would be dead, and then resurrected. If that isn't enough of a sign for you, what would be? (And yet, God still provides signs!)
    • Too often we just don't care-- we're apathetic or jaded. Given the same circumstances, who's going to get to a goal first, someone apathetic or a desperado?
    • We're already so full of junk we're not hungry. Full of ourselves, full of life's pleasures, full of stuff that keeps us content where we are, full of junk food so we're not hungry for the things that will keep us healthy, help us grow, let us reproduce. Sometimes, even full of poisons.
    • Some people would prefer to starve to death, or eat poison or razor blades rather than be hungry for God, or even if they are hungry, rather than admit it.
  3. Rules, not relationship
    • We don't really know God. Many of us aren't sure we can-- or that we want to.
    • We try to codify, understand, package, teach and reproduce the methods so we can get quantifiable, reproducible results like an assembly line. This gets us out of any real work and lets us compare ourselves against one another (it's generally not healthy, but we love to do that).
    • Jesus almost never did the same thing the same way twice, at least as recorded in Scripture. That doesn't sound like sound, modern manufacturing!
    • Instead, Jesus stayed close to the Father. In Jn 5/19, He says, I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. Apparently the Father is more into relationships than rules, because Daddy didn't give his son a bunch of rules about how to heal or do miracles; he sent him in among people and just had Jesus be his body to love on them as they needed at the moment. And he did it individually and uniquely.
    • Why did he do it that way? I suggest that it's because God wants relationship with each of us, not a bunch of drones on an assembly line, punching cards and answering to bosses back in an office somewhere. As Patrick McGoohan's character said in The Prisoner, I am not a number. I will not be stamped, filed, indexed, briefed or debriefed.
      I think God says that and more. I will not be scanned, reduced to a set of rules or equations, programmed, and reproduced en masse by human machines, packaged and shipped to everyone on the planet with your poorly understood and thought out, and even more poorly translated, instructions ('Step 1: Please to placing hand on subject's hair at 44.2 degrees to vertical while repeat this praying in James's King, in a louding voice, beginning THUS SAYETH THE LARD')
      But we, the Church-- when we are even open to the possibility of healings and miracles (rather than giving up and hiding behind walls of doctrine)- try to emulate Jesus in all the ways that don't matter. Let's see... last time I just touched their eyes, so next on the rotating list I mix spit and dirt to make clay. But what's the ratio of dirt to spit? Does it matter what I ate? Do I need to brush my teeth and gargle, or is purely organic spit better? (That's what Jesus did, better stick with organic.) Does the kind of dirt matter? Maybe I should get some dirt from the Holy Land and carry that with me at all times. Since I don't have that today, would dirt from Palestine, Texas be better than beach or desert sand, whichever is in my carpet in the car? Should I write in the sand? Wait, that's for a woman caught in adultery. Is this guy an adulterer? Does writing in the sand work on guys caught in adultery? If so, should I just make the clay and put it on his eyes and write on that? Even if he's not an adulterer he might have adulterous eyes, so that might be best. ARGH! God!!! Why didn't you make this all clearer in the Bible?
      But he did! I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. It's about relationship, not rules. When you pursue that relationship (as the disciples did) you learn who God is, and who you are, and the miracles and healings will just happen. You, after all, are made in the image of God (Gen 1/26-27), and are perfected in Christ (Heb 10). In fact, I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. [You] will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (Jn 14/12)

People will be set free, and they will come from miles around to watch you burn without being consumed, just as Moses went to the burning bush, and just as people did for Jesus.

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