Years ago I witnessed a boy’s leg grow about two inches. It was in an evangelistic meeting. He had responded to an offer to pray for bad backs. As several people laid hands on him the leg grew. He and his friends were amazed. But we never saw the boy after than night. It raised a question: how can people experience a miracle but never embrace the Miracle Maker? Why do some who hear a compelling message walk out untouched?
Jesus witnessed mixed responses too. Ninety percent of a leper band failed to say, “Thank You.” A rich, young ruler chose equity over eternity. And, in a parable, Jesus predicted that even His own resurrection would be ignored:
“Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let [your five brothers] hear them.’ But [the rich man] said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But [Abraham] said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:29-31)
How can this happen? Surely everyone is like us people of faith; we hear truth and we respond. Right?
Well, yes, people are like us. But don’t we sometimes take the place of the un-persuaded rich man? So, why are you and I inclined to walk past God?
- Perhaps we are like the people of Lystra1. They were so used to life with their own gods that when Paul and Barnabus healed a cripple they concluded that their gods had come for a visit. Perhaps the gods were going to punish them. Maybe they came to encourage them in their existing lifestyle. Never mind what Paul was actually starting to say.
- Many people choose to live in a state of sealed inner contradiction. It happens when we know a truth about God but we refuse to explore the implications of that truth. To do so would demand a change in thinking and behavior. So we allow truth to coexist with wrong thinking. We ignore the inconsistency and we stuff it inside, refusing to resolve it or talk about it. That way, life can go on as normal.
- Part of the exploration of a new truth happens during testing. When we have to choose obedience to God, or when a truth demands a certain action, there is a price to pay. Whether we are willing to pay that price depends on our inner exchange rate. Do we recognize that the value of the fruit of obedience is far greater than that of our existing ways?
Anyway, next time you witness God at work, think carefully about how you are responding—and why.
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- Acts 14:8-18. [↩]