Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marvelled because of their unbelief. (Mark 6:5-6a, NKJV.)
UNBELIEF PREVENTS EVEN GOD from performing mighty works. The people who had seen Jesus of Nazareth grow up could not accept the fact that He could teach, not to speak of the signs and wonders that He had yet to perform in their midst. They could not fathom where He received the truth that He taught, the wisdom He revealed in His teaching, and the mighty works they had heard He performed in other places. They simply recognised Him as one of them. Hence, they were oﬀended. The fact that Jesus could teach with such authority and wisdom and perform such wonders caused them displeasure: the fact that He could do it, but not them. At the bottom of their being oﬀended then was their pride, and probably a large dose of jealousy.
But what if …? What if they had welcomed Jesus as the prophet in their own hometown? I believe that there would have been a revival in that city! The teachings of Jesus would open up their dull hearts, and their faith would be stirred, and the Lord then could do mighty works in their midst!
However, before we criticise their un-belief, let us also be quick to examine our own response to our own local prophets in our midst, and in our churches. How often we are more welcoming of prophets who come from overseas, especially the West, than those God has been raising in our own backyard in our hometown. We might be quicker to give the local ones the brush-oﬀ, and for all kinds of reasons.
“Where did He get these teachings? He did not go to bible school or seminary! en how did he suddenly get all those marvellous (ahem, sorry), those strange and maybe even deviant insights? He was just like one of us! Must be something suspicious! Must be stopped!”
Then, we wonder, and continue to ask God, “Why revival tarries?”!
Familiarity, they say, breeds contempt; that is because it is sown with seeds of pride and jealousy. But familiarity nurtured in love can breed respect instead.
Let us pay attention to nurturing our own “prophets” so that in the fullness of time when their ministry is launched, we know and trust them enough to celebrate what God will do through them.
The Rev Dr Wee Boon Hup is the President of Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC).
WHAT SPIRITUALITY MEANS TO ME
Walking with Jesus
INTEREST IN SPIRITUALITY is on the rise and extends well beyond the parameters of Christianity. Publications on spirituality line the shelves in many bookstores and countless websites explore the subject.
Last year I had a conversation with a conference delegate which soon moved into the area of faith. “I have faith in a Higher Power,” he said, “I am a spiritual person too.” A recent conference on spirituality in mid-west Ohio attracted a thousand people “for an inspirational weekend of spiritual talks, prayer and worship”. One participant said: “I am deeply interested in things spiritual, as opposed to things religious.” So for one, spirituality meant a personal belief in the supernatural, while to another, spirituality was contrasted against religion.
How should we understand spirituality? Spirituality is more than a belief in a supernatural power or a weekend retreat of reflection or even a daily hour of meditation. It is a personal relationship, an ongoing communion with a living God that results in a love for others. Christian spirituality is defined by Christ and His ways as shown in the Scriptures. It is the growth that develops when a believer makes a consistent and ongoing choice to surrender to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is living out the Christian life by consciously choosing to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide our thought, word and deed (Romans 6:11-14; Eph 5:18). It is bearing the “fruit of the Spirit”(Galatians 5:22-23), i.e., being controlled by the Holy Spirit, having a sound speech, a consistent spiritual walk and making decisions based on the teachings of the Scriptures. It is a life-long process of progressively relying on God’s Spirit.
Critical factors that influence our experience of spirituality are our personal beliefs and values, our denominational perspectives and our attitudes to the world, culture, tradition and history. John Wesley’s teaching on “the means of grace” and “works of piety” has been pivotal in my journey in Christian spirituality. These means of grace include: Worship and the Lord’s Supper, Searching the Scriptures, Conferring with others and Prayer and Fasting.
To evaluate the spirituality of our personal experiences, we should ask, Does this religious experience draw me to a deeper and closer relationship with God? Is this experience or practice grounded in love for God and neighbour? Does it draw me to prayer and to the reading of the Scripture? Does this experience result in a life of ethical action and good works?
Therefore, Christian spirituality involves a choice to “know and grow” in a daily relationship with Christ by yielding to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Christian spirituality takes us beyond our self-centred lives by expanding our hearts with compassion towards all.