Mark 6:5 And he could do no mighty work there—
It is one of the most startling verses in all of the Bible. A place where Jesus could do no mighty work. The place was His hometown. And Matthew tells us it was —because of their unbelief. (Matthew 13:58). The place that should’ve seen the most miracles saw the least. The people who grew up with Jesus knew Him less than those who just met Him. Too often this is the story of the church.
Churches should be miracle factories. Because it is the place where the Word becomes flesh and walks among us. Where the songs being sung are extensions of the lives changed. However, too often, like His hometown, those of us who grew up in the church with Jesus know Him less than those who just met him. Too often the church is known for it’s conflict rather than it’s compassion. Where ritual has replaced calling. What once was a counterculture has started looking, eating, and breathing the same indifference, prejudice, and apathy as the broken world it is suppose to contrast. We have traded our miracles for the mundane, our sacrifice for safety, and our victory for the predicable. Our faith is so spoon-fed, it never learned to walk on it’s own, two, feet. The stories never became flesh and blood for us. Too often the places we should see the most miracles, sees the least, because we no longer expect Jesus to show up. We no longer put ourselves in situations that would necessitate His showing. And until we step out, God will not step in. He doesn’t perform miracles in people, and projects, that insist on doing it themselves.
In Frederck Buechner’s memoir “Now & Then” Buechner tells the story of attending a seminar on prayer. The seminar was presented by an Episcopal laywomen who had experienced powerful answers to prayer. One of the most vivid images from the presentation was of “Jesus standing in church services all over Christendom with his hands tied behind his back and unable to do any mighty works there because the ministers who led the services, either didn’t expect him to do them or didn’t dare ask him to do them for fear that he wouldn’t or couldn’t and that their own faith and the faith of their congregations would be threatened as the result.” We have not because we ask not. But if the church is going to start seeing miracles again, as the bible says, and the seminar Buechner attended brought out; you have to believe it can happen for it to happen. You have to expect it, (1).
So may we cry out as the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). If we could just find enough faith to start bringing our God-sized problems to Jesus, He has enough power to start changing our lives, which will change our churches. It is my prayer that the church will start doing the sort of things that leaves us no other choice than to fall at His feet. Imagine the movements, the missions, the miracles we will see when really start to believe.
Frederick Buechner, Now & Then, Harper and Row