A few years back I met a missionary from Africa who was here in Tennessee sharing the gospel with Americans. I was fascinated (and convicted) as he shared the heart he and his church back home has for the lost here in my own backyard. One thing he said to me I’ll never forget:
In Africa, we witness miracles all the time because we depend on them. Without God meeting our daily needs, we would die. The reason you see so few miracles here in America is because you’ve learned to depend on technology and modern medicine to meet your needs. God is not so necessary.
I don’t know about you, but I want to live a life where God is absolutely necessary, where I am increasingly dependent upon him to meet all my needs. This is true of me less than I care to admit.
March Madness is right around the corner and you’ll no doubt hear many players and coaches reciting a line I remember hearing often during my brief time playing ball in high school:
Leave it all on the court.
After this game, don’t be the one who looks back with regret that you didn’t give it your all. I wonder at times whether I will one day look back on my life and be satisfied that I left all behind for the sake of Christ, who left all to give me life. I wonder if I will one day know all that could have been accomplished by God’s power working through me had I believed the impossible.
Or will it be said of me that Jesus could not do many miracles with Chad because of his unbelief (Matt. 13:58)? I’m sure he’s done and will do some. But many? How much is many?
When I moved into Church of God country I witnessed for the first time in my life the gift of tongues and interpretation in full display. Growing up a Nazarene I had never seen this gift. I didn’t believe it was still in operation. But churches in Cleveland, Tennessee proved otherwise. Why is the gift of tongues a dominant gift in the Church of God but rarely if ever heard in the Church of the Nazarene? Maybe because people growing up in the CoG have faith that this is a gift for them.
Why do so many preacher’s kids grow up to become pastors themselves? Maybe because they saw their imperfect parent rising to the call and had faith that maybe they could, too?
Maybe miracles happen where people come to expect and believe that they will.
This may seem like I’m stating the obvious, but what we believe about ourselves comes to pass. If you and I believe we can do something, than we will, or at the very least, we will die trying. And if you and I believe we can’t do something, we won’t, nor will we try.
When I was floundering in my sexual addiction there were numerous things I believed wrongly, but two are pertinent to this post:
- What I’m experiencing isn’t sin, but addiction.
- I’ll always be an addict
The turning point for me in my life was when I came to my senses and saw how my behavior was not due to me being an addict but due to me being a sinner. I was a slave to sin.
The distinction is an important one, I believe. My experience has been such that when I saw myself primarily as an addict, I did so to my detriment. My identity as an addict put a veil between myself and a miracle working God, causing me to place my trust in a program to provide at best a daily reprieve from my addictive behavior.
But when I saw myself as a sinner, a person who has become addicted to sinning in a particular way, there was a seismic shift in my spirit. Naming my condition rightly opened up the door for the Holy Spirit to minister to that condition. It tore the veil separating myself from God and helped me to see that there is indeed a remedy for sin – the blood of Christ – and that in his grace and mercy he has provided wonderful tools (such as the steps, a group of brothers, a sponsor, and most importantly, his Word) to enable me to walk in the Spirit rather than the flesh, one day at a time.
There is so much brokenness in our world today. So much that is outside of God’s intended design for us. I see it in my own heart. I see it in my family. I see it in our churches. And the world cannot be healed or saved when the church is sick. I believe God is aching to heal us of our brokenness, that this has always been the case, yet we are so often unaware or unwilling. Jesus is calling out to us still, like a mother hen, longing to bring us under his wings. But so often we reject the message, and the messenger (Luke 13:34).
Whether the issue be pornography, divorce, homosexuality, greed, lust, anger, racism, etc., it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between the church and the world. And this is to be expected. For when the body of Christ ceases to name these things (and more) as sin, it ceases to avail herself to the One who died to destroy the work of sin (1 John 3:8). We see so little victory over these sins because we do not believe victory is possible.
It is imperative that we get our thinking – our hearts – right and aligned with the Spirit of Truth if we are to experience the joy and freedom Christ purchased for us with his blood. It is imperative we do this for the sake of our mission to the world which has not seen, nor has it heard, nor has it entered into their hearts what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor. 2:9).
May it be said of all of us one day that we left it all on the court, and within our midst, Jesus did many miracles.