Monday, April 19, 2010

Signs and Miracles – Do You See Them? Do You Need Them?

“Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

~John 4:48 (NIV).

What makes you believe? Are you constantly looking to refute the case for God and Christ, or do you live at the other end of the spectrum—seeing miracles all around you?

Of course, both realities exist. It depends on your outlook and perception. It’s most likely you fit somewhere between these two vast poles—you’re not easily persuaded, but still not altogether dissuaded either. Epiphanies happen but not all the time.

Those who do not see yet believe are blessed (John 20:29). This is a bitter pill to swallow, for what reason is there to believe in Jesus but to experience his miraculous Presence?

We can almost sense Jesus’ mild frustration in this statement above. ‘They’re coming to use my power again... then, they’ll believe... and what’s the point, they won’t believe the truth behind the power if they can’t see it before the miracle,’ seems to possibly be his thinking.

People who need the case of God to be proven—beyond the shadow of any doubt—generally have a weaker faith than those who don’t. Yet, there are not many who don’t see or perceive miracles before they believe.

And yet further still, God is expert in demonstrating his miraculous power to get a doubting baby-believer over the line; a taste, the conversion, then the real work of discipleship begins—suddenly this “miraculous” God’s gone on A.W.O.L.

And how else would we learn the trade of “faith” if we weren’t thrown into the deep end?—made to exercise our burgeoning patience of faith in real-time, with our real-life issues, frustrations, challenges and sorrows.

Belief, and therefore trust, is bolstered almost certainly in the miraculous. And perhaps where this fits most is for the person who’s already a reasonably mature believer; the person who’s had God’s Presence disappear on them all of a sudden—for days, months, years perhaps—and in their worst pain. And this does happen.

Is it perhaps our role as disciples of Christ to take him at his Word and not require him to pull out his magic box of tricks to thrill and amaze us, intuiting from us our ‘Praise-the-Lords’ and ‘Hallelujahs.’ The latter is at best an immature and spoiled-rotten faith if this is what we would espouse. This “faith” is getting us nowhere with God. We’ll certainly not be “blessed.”

Perhaps it is, however, a call to see the miraculous in the everyday? Are there not countless miracles and blessings each and every single day?

And a final encouragement comes from the apostle Peter. He wrote this for us I think:

“Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy...”

~1 Peter 1:8 (NRSV).

It is to our rejoicing glory when we do not see or feel him, but still choose to believe. And we’re “receiving” our very reward in this—the salvation of our souls (1 Peter 1:9).

Can the meaning and significance of this concept—the salvation of our souls—ever be truly grasped and understood? Surely that’s not possible. Nevertheless, the miracle of God’s grace to save can be seen any time we choose to see it.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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