ANYway, back to my point. In the midst of yet another lax week of reading my own Bible (see the post "Pity Party" for how that worked for me), I actually came in sincerity Thursday night to a particular spot that stopped me. That part- which I can only conclude I was divinely directed to because I was on schedule to read the NEXT chapter- was the beginning of Mark 6. Jesus was teaching in the synagogue at hometown Nazareth that Sabbath, and the local yokels who watched Him grow up rejected Him. Focus for a moment on verses 4-6:
4 But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” 5 Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He marveled because of their unbelief...
Now, here's the thing. How was it that the Very Son Of God could do NOTHING because those around Him did not believe? Was His power contingent on belief? I puzzled on this, and then saw that my Bible had a reference link to Genesis 19:22. Curious, I went there next. It turns out to be in the midst of the Sodom and Gomorrah story. Jesus (AKA the Angel of the Lord) and two other angels have come to Abraham, outlining that they had come to destroy the cities of the plain for their wickedness. Abraham had done his bargaining (What if there are 20 good people... or ten... or five...?), survey said Lot was it, and the two angels had went down to get him. But Lot, though a good man, was intensely naïve about those around him (including, as it turns out, his family) and was, like Abraham, fighting for every life he could get out.
18 Then Lot said to them, “Please, no, my lords! 19 Indeed now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have increased your mercy which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, lest some evil overtake me and I die. 20 See now, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one; please let me escape there (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.”
21 And he said to him, “See, I have favored you concerning this thing also, in that I will not overthrow this city for which you have spoken. 22 Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there.”
Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.
So here we are, with Jesus Himself just miles away, and the angel is unable to act UNTIL Lot moves his carcass. Does that mean that Jesus couldn't just have blasted Sodom lock, stock, and Lot? And what about doing miracles in Nazareth? Is God powerless without faith?
No, of course not. Let's dig a little deeper into the story. Jesus was sent to earth why? All together, class- to SAVE men. To save man, man must have faith. Let me show you what Wesley had to say about the situation in Mark:
He could do no miracle there - Not consistently with his wisdom and goodness. It being inconsistent with his wisdom to work them there, where it could not promote his great end; and with his goodness, seeing he well knew his countrymen would reject whatever evidence could be given them. And therefore to have given them more evidence, would only have increased their damnation.
In other words, doing "great works" there would have been more hurt than help. As a group, they were going to reject what He did no matter what. The greater work He showed them, the greater the amount of rejection they would have had to apply to His works. Knowing that, He purposely eased off. That way, individuals who might come to Him apart from the "collective consciousness" would still be able to come to Him on their own. He could work with them individually if they had the least faith. Just like it's easier to be faithful in a church, it's easier to be unbelieving in a group. Had He forced it on them with overwhelming miracles, they would have been turned irretrievably away because of the group mentality.
Same thing with the story of Lot. The angels had a simple command- get Lot out, then destroy the cities. It was the need to get Lot to MOVE that held things up, not any ability of Jesus. Are you getting what I'm about yet? No?
Okay, simplified: God wants to move in our lives. He really does. But here's the thing- we're sinners. We need to be saved, to be born again. A Pure and Holy God requires a pure and holy people- and we can only manage that THROUGH faith in Christ. But it's not JUST faith. Faith gets the gate open... or to put it another way, faith delivered the angels to Lot's doorstep. But God required Lot to get out of a bad situation and move before His great work could be accomplished. If we want God to move in our lives, it takes more than a prayer and then wait for results. Atheists could "do" that too, and then make fun of God for the lack of results. And they do.
If you want God to move in YOUR life, it starts with faith- not just "I know you're up there", but true faith. Then, you need to act ON that faith... Get out of "Sodom", move to the "Holy Land",
The comforting thing about this for Christians is, as long as we are in this world, God will not begin the final judgment. The bad news for atheists is, the day of Rapture will come one day. And for those of you on the in-between: I wouldn't wait till Lot clears the city limits, if I were you.