Ripped off. That is the underlying feeling I have been suppressing over the past few months as I have jumped headlong into a powerful and yet challenging place of truth in my walk with Jesus. In the last few months I have seen Jesus miraculously heal everything from minor headaches to fibromyalgia through these hands. I’ve seen dozens of blind eyes open, deaf ears opened, and broken bodies healed. Doesn’t sound like a cause for disappointment, you may say, but it is to me.
I have been serving Jesus for eighteen years now and for some reason this side of living out the gospel with power has been somewhat hidden from me. I mean I read about it in the book of Acts, but for the most part Christianity has been taught to me as nothing more than a gospel of morality. Now with my eyes wide opened, I see the intentional system of religious thinking that keeps much of Christ’s followers in a stupor of powerless, religious behavior. I am not saying I have any specific person to blame, no, I just feel that if I had encountered this gospel of power, maybe I could have avoided so many traps in my own thinking. I’m not blaming anyone, but just saying if more believers live out a dynamic love for Jesus and make disciples with this revelation, nations would be changed.
“You need a personal relationship with Jesus” I was told. For some reason I can’t find that statement or anything similar to it in the Bible. However, what I do find is a calling for everyone who will believe in Jesus to commit themselves to a lifestyle of self-abandonment. A disciple of Jesus is clearly portrayed as one who is focused solely on pursuing Him. Not pursuing Him for His ability to empower idea of a “good” life. I found a revealing irony in an account of the early church. Peter, en route to the synagogue with John, see a lame man and says to him “silver and gold have I none, but such as I have, I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ rise up and walk.” Peter doesn’t pray for the guy, no, he grabs his hand and pulls him up. The church today somehow has a lot fo “silver and gold” and very little of the “such as I have,” or power that it was intended to have. I feel that so much focus has been put the principle of constant self-evaluation of moral principles that Christians tend to idolize their “relationship with Jesus” more than Jesus himself. Yes, there is a time for introspection, but it should always be followed by a changed heart that leads to a changed life in practice.
How is it that a believer can sit in a church for decades, build a lifestyle of great success, wealth, and personal achievement and never demonstrate the supernatural power of God? Don’t we have a mandate to reach the lost, heal the sick, open blind eyes, cast out demons, and make disciples of all nations? Somehow religious thinking has fooled us into believing that a “personal relationship” with Jesus only requires that we mark the Christian box among other religious preferences.
If following Jesus doesn’t burn a constant passion in us to demonstrate the power of God to our co-workers and neighbors then for what benefit is our salvation to the world? We are saved with a purpose. I believe that so much preaching against sin and on personal development tends to lead one to be intellectually brilliant about theology and practically useless for the kingdom. This kind of thinking advocates sickness and disease as the providence of God. It leads to a intellectually deep and spiritually shallow life. Who cares if you can debate around the idea of eternal security or predestination when you are making no eternal impact with your life.
“Creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” Romans 8:19