Back at college, I had asked one of my Bible teachers if he still believed in miracles, like when Jesus fed thousands of people with a couple of fishes and a handful of loaves. And I wondered if God was still into that stuff. I wanted miracles to be normal again. He told me that we have insulated ourselves from miracles. We no longer live with such reckless faith that we need them. There is rarely room for the transcendent in our lives. If we get sick, we go to a doctor. If we need food, we go to a store and buy it. We have eliminated the need for miracles. If we had enough faith to depend on God like the lilies and the sparrows do, we would see miracles. For is it not a miracle that the birds find enough worms each day?
-Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution
The title of this post might sound like a protest or like I’m some sort of American renegade. That’s not true. I love my country. But I just want to ask some questions about what faith really is and whether or not we live it.
The U.S. has the largest economy in the world. According to economywatch.com, we beat number two by over 7 million dollars. I think we have faith in our wealth, and if not wealth—our credit. Let’s be honest, how much money are we spending that doesn’t even exist at all? Shane Claiborne makes a really good point that we hardly see miracles anymore because we simply don’t need them. We’re too comfortable in our couches of gold that we never rely on God to carry us.
I worry about finance. “Will I have enough money next year at college?” “Can I afford all of the expenses I have for my summer plans?” I think the reason I worry about letting go of money is the fear that it may never return. I might not be able to rely on my own wallet to get me by.
What if we no longer relied on doctors or super markets? What we simply had faith that God would give us the worms we need for today? I doubt very much that birds and flowers worry. This is what Jesus calls us to. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34 NIV)
Think of some of the absolutely radical things that Jesus calls people to:
“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) And what did they do? Immediately they left their nets and followed him. (4:20) They quit their jobs to follow a homeless man who taught about God. They gave up their steady income. Tell me, where does Scripture mention that they ever struggled to find food?
Someone promises to follow and Jesus warns that, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58) In essence he says that following Him will be having no home, no steady income, no certainties of this world. Another man says he will follow Jesus, but wanted to tell his family goodbye and Jesus said that a man who looks back wasn’t fit for the kingdom of God.
There is no room for doubt. We need to have the faith that a child has in his parents. Or more purely, we need the faith a bird has in the trees and the flowers have in the soil.
One time man asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life and Jesus told him, “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” (Luke 18:23) Then He told the man to follow Him. The man simply walked away with a sad face.
Jesus also once said, “Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33)
I think it’s really clear that not only do we have too much stuff, but we are simply unwilling to let go of it. This is a part of the gospel that seems to be overlooked in America because it’s inconvenient. We’ve removed it from hobby-church. I’m honestly not really sure what this is supposed to look like. Am I supposed to give up all of my money and be poor? Am I really supposed to reject everything that is mine? What does that look like? What does that mean?
I guess this means I ought to realize that the things I call “mine” are not really mine at all. I should realize that if God has blessed me once, He can do so again. This means I should stop holding on to money with such a tight fist. I should not value the things I have because I have them, but rather because God has trusted me with their care for now.
Somehow we need to find out how to live with a reckless, non-material faith in a country where health and wealth are the defining factors of success. The word faith often times can be read trust. I need to trust in God and live in faith that He has control. After that it won’t matter what happens to me. And along the way I may just witness a miracle or two.