Many of us today have reservations about miracles. I do.
Now, I have no trouble believing in miracles. At the same time, I know that many people influence miracles and use them to their advantage.
One time I attended a large rally for a well-known evangelist. There was a time during his message that he focused on healing. I’ve had a bad knee for more than twenty years now. There hasn’t been a day that I haven’t had pain from that knee, including the night at the rally.
I walked across his stage to tell his crowd I wasn’t feeling any pain. Of course, I wasn’t right then. Looking back, I let someone mix my belief in miracles with a little bit of adrenaline. Right before I walked to the stage, an usher met me to ask what I was going to say. I told him I wanted to thank God for the pain being gone. He said, “No, don’t do that. Jump up and down and show them.”
All that to say, my miracle-believing self is cautious when it comes to miracle talk. So, I can understand why some people may have questioned Jesus. I’d want my religious leaders to lead the way when it comes to these matters.
At the same time, my sense is many of the leaders who questioned Jesus did so more because he didn’t align with their model of faith. He didn’t fit their understanding of what God wanted to do.
Isn’t that a good description of what can happen in the church?
We point fingers at each other when our ways don’t match. Have you ever criticized someone else’s form of worship? I’ve heard people criticize younger people who “just want to be entertained” in worship. Some of those younger people are quick to suggest others “just want to run the church.”
Those aren’t quite Beelzebul accusations. But when I know people experience the grace of God in both ways, it’s pretty close to me.
And I’m sure we can find other examples.
What gets lost in it all is the fact that we are dividing ourselves. To that, Jesus says, “Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house.”
We should test every spirit. We should hold one another accountable to our faith. We should question together what we experience, whether it’s a miracle, a teaching or even our ministry pursuits.
But we can’t let our difference of opinions, styles of worship or even our theological perspectives get in the way of our obedience to God. It’s a hard line to walk at times. Go too far on one side, and it’s your opinions, styles of worship or even your theological perspectives that take center stage.
My knee wasn’t healed that night on stage. Two decades of pain tell me that now. At the same time, I do know I experienced healing that night. I would never attend another rally like that again. But I do know God works in ways that go beyond my understanding and even my sense of what is proper and true.