Psalm 118, 145
What role do signs and wonders play in faith-based religion?
On April 8, 1966, Time Magazine’s cover asked, “Is God Dead?” with the accompanying article examining the premise that some Christian theologians were rethinking the existence of a personal god. Such thoughts had entered the world of the faithful before. For about 400 years before the birth of Christ, there were no prophets (at least whose works entered into the Old Testament). Certainly, God’s people continued, but God’s voice, as it was understood in the time, was a silent.
Today’s passages recount God’s involvement with his people through signs and wonders – and their absence. In the Exodus passage God directly gives Moses signs to perform if the people question his directive from God and predicts that he, God, will perform wonders to convince the king of Egypt to do His will. In the Psalms, praises thank God for his direct involvement with the nation of Israel. The Romans passage describes the gifts we have to do God’s will, and in John, those who reject God are shown to be blinded to God in their presence. As the passages demonstrate, the signs and wonders are not only done by God, but by his people in order that his will would be done. It is important to understand, that while sometimes people performed the signs and wonders, they came directly under the authority of God for the purpose of accomplishing his desires.
Much like the news today reports on the extraordinary, most of the signs and wonders recounted in the Bible were extraordinary actions that defined a people. With the coming of the Holy Spirit, signs and wonders continue through all who are Christian. We may perform signs and wonders on a regular basis without notice as we use our gifts to do what God directs us to do. These signs and wonders likely will not make the news or have chapters in future religious books, and they should not.
As Christians, we rely on no sign since the resurrection of Christ and look for no sign but his return, so celebrating our actions fulfilling the will of God as the “latest sign” undermine the faith central to Christianity. Nevertheless, it is good for us to recognize the power we possess, through the Holy Spirit, to accomplish good through the righteous use of our spiritual gifts. We must not resist those things we are called to do just as we must refrain from attempting our desires and calling them God’s will.
Let us recognize and understand our place in God’s kingdom and use that place to further God’s work on earth and humbly work with the power of the Holy Spirit within us all.