God’s Parlor Tricks

During devotion time yesterday morning, we read John 4. I was really struck with Jesus’ response when someone asks him for (another) miraculous healing: “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”

I could hear the exasperation in his voice, almost seeing him rolling his eyes as he said it. As if what really wanted to say was, “I’m so tired of doing these stupid parlor tricks for you. Either you believe in me, or you don’t.”

And yet, they were constantly asking him for physical evidence of his power. Over and over. And we still do that today.

As far as I can tell, there are two main reasons for the fact that most people today reject Christianity. One reason is because throughout history (and still today) Christians have a reputation for being at best prim, proper and boring, and at worst, cruelly and barbarically judgmental. And let’s be honest, no one wants anything to do with that (understandably).

But the other bigger problem with accepting God in general and Christianity in particular is that humans struggle to accept the existence of spiritual realities. For most of us, everything has to be physical, concrete. There has to be physical evidence that we can observe with our senses in order for us to believe something. 

But God exists in the realm of the spiritual. So unless we can embrace the life of the spirit, we will never see or feel His presence anywhere.

Yesterday while out hiking, it occurred to me how narrow life would be if I only recognized the physical realm of existence. The life of the spirit opens up so many experiences, makes life so much richer. To confine myself to the physical realm would be to shut out half my conscious mind, to close my heart, to experience life in a narrow way similar to the way I imagine physical blindness or deafness.

As it is, I get to experience God’s presence in every situation, to hear His voice in my heart. Mundane, everyday experiences become portals to flashes of sudden insight and inspiration. The words of the Bible, which appear irrelevant and even contradictory when read on a merely physical plane, resonate with strength, and each time I read them, carry new and more powerful meaning. On this level of existence, there is no need for physical proof. There is no need for “parlor tricks” to prove the existence of God when He walks beside you every day.

In the physical realm, humans constantly need proof. They constantly demand evidence. But it is impossible to either prove or disprove faith. If you could do that, it wouldn’t be faith.

Instead, faith is a decision, a relationship, a commitment. If you do not have faith, you will look for proof of God’s absence everywhere, and so you’ll find it. If you do have faith, you will look for proof of God’s presence everywhere, and so you’ll find it.

It’s just a matter of meeting God where He is, in the spiritual world which exists all around us.

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