By Abiodun Odejayi
If there is something that is mind boggling amongst Christians, or should I correct that to say “seemingly Christians” these days, it is the quest for miracles. Looking around the landscape, you’ll find humongous worship centres running series of programmes, some from day-to-day, promising all sorts of relief from a challenge or the other. Without taking anything for granted, some even call a normal child birth with no incidence a miracle amidst other things perceived as special.
Unfortunately, using the term “miracle” in such a way, while seemingly harmless, is one of several ways in which misconceptions about miracles are founded in the denominational world of Christendom. On the other hand, how about those fame and wealth seeking exploiting people who called themselves prophets and men of God taking advantage of the gullible miracle seekers?
Let me state my bias upfront. I am a Bible believing Christian and I belong to the group that long to see the Bible stand on everything. Where the stance, popular or otherwise is different from the stance of the Bible, I distance myself from it. So let us look at the stance of the Bible on “miracles” and what the stance of the “Church” and “believers” should be.
Miracle is defined as “an extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a Divine (God, in this case) agency”. By extension, it is beyond being extraordinary but also an astonishing happening that is attributed to the presence and action of God.
The Bible is full of miracles, for instance, a burning but not consumed bush when Jehovah was calling Moses as an example; God giving Moses the ability to part the Red Sea simply by raising his staff out over the water in Exodus 14. Jesus Himself carried out a lot of miracles, instantaneously healing every disease and affliction among the people, including the paralysis, epilepsy, those oppressed by demons, lepers, discharges of blood, blindness, the mute, those with withered hands and even raising the dead, amongst others. (Matthew 4:23-24; 8:1-4, 28-34; 9:1-8, 18-34; 12:9-14).
The obvious question I know that you’d ask is that if Jesus Christ Himself was involved in miracles, why then are we saying the quest for miracles today is wrong? I am not in any way saying that miracles are wrong, no. Miracle is an answer to prayers and when it happens, it gives hope to believers that whenever they ask anything of God, they will certainly receive answers. That is why we seek Him because He promised us that we will find Him when we do (Jeremiah 29:13). However, Christians (believers) are not called to be miracle-seekers, or to be running after signs and wonders, which automatically we can say are their birth rights.
The answer to the unending quest for miracles been wrong is simply found in the purpose for miracle. Miracles are for all, but essentially they are meant to convince unbelievers about the power and presence of God and the Holy Spirit so that they would believe and surrender their souls. Bible references abound about this. Mark 16:20, as an instance, says, “And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the Word by the signs that followed…” believers are to use Miracles, signs and wonders to fill the kingdom of God. Mark 16:17 says, “these signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues…”. Believers are to use miracles as a tool to win souls.
Then what is in it for Christians if they are not meant to be miracle seekers? A true Christian or Believer is someone who has become a little Jesus. In Acts 11:26, it was stated thus: “And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch”. A Christian is someone whose life, including his behaviours and heart, reflect Jesus Christ. Someone who is dedicated to doing the will of “…My Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother”! (Matthew 12:50). In essence, Christians are just like Jesus Christ.
No wonder Jesus Christ Himself in Matthew 6:33 said, “but seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”. So a true Christian/Believer should really have no need for running after miracles as his needs will be automatically met, mostly miraculously; so long as he remains a true child of God. That is why Jesus encouraged us not to be anxious about anything but to rely on Him. He is the one who takes care of birds in the sky who do not reap nor gather into barns.
It is essential to have a proper understanding of this because a lot of the things happening in the Christendom today happen because Christians have been distracted from seeking the face of God and left the essentials in pursuit of miracles and what comes with it. No wonder a lot of those miracles are even faked. These fake and make-believe miracles have even watered down the effect of the authentic miracles powered by the Holy Spirit.
It is the responsibility of each believer to develop and nurture their intimacy with and consecration to Jesus Christ, so that they too can become like Him. It should equally be the goal of every true Pastor, Prophet, Apostle, etc. to TRAIN and EQUIP their members to be able to do miracles amidst other things (Ephesians 4:11-16). Take for instance the story of little known Ananias, a believer in Acts Chapter 9. God appeared to him and he was the tool used to restore Paul after his conversion (Acts 9:10-18)
Let us learn from our forebearers as Christians. In Exodus 17, when Amalek came to fight Israel at Rephidim, Moses hands were held up to give advantage to Joshua as he defeated the enemies. Joshua beseeched God in Joshua 10 and commanded the sun to stand still and the moon stayed until the victory was achieved. It was also reported that Prophet Benson Idahosa in his days was holding a crusade somewhere and an attempt was made on his life by someone jumping on the stage attempting to stab him. As the hand with the knife was raised, he commanded the hand to stay there in the air, and so it happened until Prophet Idahosa prayed to release him some hours later.
Lastly, brethren, let us go back to our first love as we were encouraged in Revelation 2:4. Our loss of our original purpose is part of the problem facing our country and the world now. May we not be found guilty of misleading people away from the right path to heaven in Jesus name. Amen.
Odejayi writes from Ibadan and was inspired by Pastor Biodun Oduwole