A little bit ago, I wrote this:
This weekend I went to a couple of church services. One was bad news. But the Saturday night service was beautiful. C. John Steer, a British man from the Spurgeon Seminary in Great Britain spoke at a Saturday night, college-oriented service. He spoke on the end of John 12. Verses 20-36.
"We would see Jesus." - gutsy Greeks requested...to which Jesus responded by speaking about His death and the agony thereof. His sermon touched my heart in a tender place. Jesus let them see Him, but He showed them a specific part of Himself. He showed them His agony and death.
Do you see, O little one? Do you see what the cross is? Do you see the bitter agony of separation? This is the cross. I have shown you the cross. Do you see? Do you see Me? You want to see me, but do you see Me? This agony, this terror, this difficulty of soul - do you see? This is My story of beauty. There is nothing so beautiful - this terrible story.
This man presented another thing - something about faith. He claimed that the people that lived then didn't hear God's voice for one reason: they were not expecting it. He said, 'If you don't believe something happens, you have to have an explanation for it when it does happen,' and 'God speaks and we miss it.' I have thought about this so many times. Whenever somebody articulates something I have been thinking about for a long time, I feel a deep sense of relief that somebody else is on the same page, that somebody else thinks those thoughts.
I keep thinking about this verse in Matthew. 13:58 "And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith." This verse, and a few like it seem to be proof that the people's lack of faith have a direct role in the amount of miracles Jesus performs.
The second sermon seemed almost to be a perfect rebuttal of this british man's eloquent, faith-filled words. Sunday morning, I walked into a big church - lots of full pews. My particular pew was packed, and I wished for a little more elbow room. The music started and was upbeat and cheesy and had too much treble. There must be a place for this, but it's not my personal preference. I couldn't help but laugh out loud while thinking about the synchronicity of this music, Kathy Trocolli, and my friend Zach Backstrom from camp's clapping dance. We even sang a song we did for closing ceremony at camp. Classical.
Then the preacher came out and began his discourse on prayer. His point was that it's difficult to pray, because we think it doesn't really matter - God's going to do what He wants anyway. And when we pray, we don't get what we want. Then he went on to define and explain six reasons we should pray anyway. I don't think he really believed most of them - not deep down - and it came through in his preaching.
I found myself watching random screenplays in my mind: I punched this man's medium sized belly, and he puked out all his unbelief. I threw tomatoes at him, and upon impact, they exploded all over him. I went through a vast array of options for ammunition that would allow for "splat". Pumpkin guts were my personal favorite. I think I should become a millionaire by inventing a super soaker that spews out pumpkin gutbombs. I could call it Gut Pumper. Or Putt Gumper.
I wanted to give him a good talking to, and my finger would shake at him, and I would whip out my best black talk, "Boy, you gotta believe! You gotta have faith! And you gotta get out of spoiled America!"
He told a story of obvious miraculous healing. Actually, I think it was a situation in which a missionary in a foreign country brought another missionary (who just happened to be dead) back to life. His response was, "I don't know what to do with that. I certainly never expect to ever hear a story like that in my life again."
And perhaps that is the very reason he won't.