Then He began to upbraid the cities where most of his mighty works were done, because they did not repent…Matthew 11:20
We all want miracles, we just don’t want to need one. Needing miracles implies there is some trouble. It is only when we need miracles that there begins to be a heart cry for divine help. But do we want GOD, or do we just want rescue? Do we want Superman to swoop in in the nick of time, then go away and leave us alone? Or do we want God to come, and not only rescue, but transform? One is temporary, the other is eternal. One is shallow. The other is deep. One may not cost a lot. The other may cost much.
It is common to hear conversation among us about the need for ‘revival.’ This is not a criticism. That is the right thing to desire. But do we understand it? For many it seems to be merely a lament over what we perceive as the ‘loss of stability’ and ‘revival’ may mean nothing more than a restoration of outward civil order. There is little or no focus on the many injustices we have not only tolerated but even propagated. Let’s just put things ‘right.’
To others ‘revival’ means a move of the Holy Spirit to awaken the church and keeps the church life warm within, while not at all affecting our own private fleshly activities, much less challenging the world without. We want a good ‘church’ experience that serves only to support a ‘good moral’ ineffective compromising happy middle class life style.
Well, revival is coming. It is already showing up, not in big public fanfares, but in smaller, scattered relatively out of the way places. These are like brush fires that portend an inferno. And in such ‘revivals’ there are miracles, more and more. There will be demonstrations of supernatural power. Some people will be profoundly shaken by them. Some will not. They may even shrug their shoulders and flip the channel so to speak. Encountering the presence of Heaven demands a RESPONSE. Then the people of the earth who have encountered Heaven on that level must decide. Do we want Heaven to come on earth? Or do we want Earth to be left alone and Heaven to go back up into the invisible unrelatable non interfering sky? After all, we didn’t mean we wanted to be completely interfered with. A little spiritual thrill is all well and good, but I want my status quo to be respected.
Jesus is speaking in Matthew 11 to those cities who have seen ‘revival.’ They have encountered ‘miracles.’ And they have amazingly gone right on with their lives unaffected and unchanged by what they encountered. He is not angry at them as much as deeply grieved. For if the miracles done in them had been done in previous cities, which were much darker, much less informed, those pagan cities would have repented. It seems then that the great danger in the cities of Israel that keeps them from seeing and responding, is their familiarity, their self conceit, their satisfied self estimation, their religion.
So what do we learn from this? That the more middle class moral and religious we may be, the less we will be moved towards any deeper reality, even when we see miracles. Miracles, revival, encounter, all this, great as it is, will not bring inner transformation. It is the cry of the heart for God Himself that brings the desperately needed change. Let us beware of a longing for ‘return to normal.’ God knows we should not want a return to what we lived in for most of our lives, as ‘normal,” but we should long for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Anything less is an idolatry of the past.
So, do we need miracles? Yes, for there are many troubles. Do we long for a wave of supernatural power to bring Kingdom reality? To one degree or other we would all say yes. When the miracles come, they will demand an ongoing permanent response from us, one that not only is grateful for the divine intervention, but one which makes permanent room for Transformation, first within is, then through us to the nations. Let us be very wary of just wanting God to ‘come and make things better.’ We have turned the corner in history now. We have crossed the Rubicon spiritually. The dye is cast. What do we really want. Who do we really love?