The Social Impact of the Miraculous
I am not too shocked that the world does not recognize the social impact of the miraculous because even believers think of it as merely magical. We think it is merely a sight to behold not a solution to a problem. We would like to go tell our friends what we saw happen. We would like to be known as eye witnesses of the deeds of a ‘God’ who does amazing things not one who solves problems. If this is the case then how different is God from a street magician? The miraculous is usually God’s social intervention adorned in the supernatural and we must regard it as such.
At least once every month I see a street magician set up his ‘apparatus’ at some vantage point on the streets of Accra to display his magical powers in the full glare of a captivated crowd encircling him and his side kick. I have been told that it is actually a ploy to create the opportunity for pickpockets to steal from people. I don’t know how true that is but what I do know is that the goal of a street magician is to ‘WOW’ his audience but the end goal of the miraculous is to solve a problem and glorify God.
In 2015 I was in a service and Dr. Lawrence Tetteh prayed for a little girl whose legs were unequal in length. All of us in the congregation literally saw the little girl’s leg grow out slowly. It was amazing. I had never seen anything like that before. I was wowed! It was spectacular. However, the point is God didn’t set out to impress us by that miracle that day. He has already done that enough in the splendor and majesty of the universe and creation at large. That day God simply set out to solve a problem in a little girl’s life. It was a health problem. This reality dawned on me when the lady sitting next to me told me the little girl’s story. Apparently, she knew her and long story short, the little girl was supposed to have a surgery some time ago but her parents couldn’t afford it. It was then that it really dawned on me that what just happened was a major solution to a problem in the little girl’s life only that the solution came dressed in the supernatural. The miraculous is meant to make social impact so let’s not get lost in the grandeur and forget the true purpose of miracles. In my opinion this is the reason why Jesus didn’t sin when the devil tempted him. He knew that the true purpose of the miraculous was to help people and bring glory to God. Miracles are not done to merely show off God’s power. Some of us wouldn’t have even known that the devil was tempting us if we were in Jesus’ shoes. We would have seen it as an opportunity to show off God’s power. But it wasn’t. Where is the problem solved? Where is the glory to God? If Jesus had done the devil’s bidding he would have cheapened the miraculous and dishonored God who gives us power to do miracles.
When Jesus healed the blind, the lame, the leprous etc. he was solving health problems. In the book of Acts Peter’s shadow and aprons rubbed off on Paul’s body healed sick people – a solution to health problems too. When Joseph, used his gift of prophecy (word of wisdom) to save Egypt and other nations from famine, he was solving a hunger and economic problem. When Jesus fed the 5000 men and the 4000 men, he too was solving a hunger problem. When Moses used the power of his rod to save the children of Israel from Egypt, he was solving a slavery and servitude problem. The bad water of Jericho was killing people, when Elisha prophesied over the water and turned it into good water, he was solving an environmental problem. In the garden of Gethsemane when the soldiers came for Jesus, Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of the soldiers. Jesus healed the soldier (by putting the ear back in its place, I suppose) right there and then he rebuked Peter. When Jesus did that, he was dealing with the problem of religious extremism. When Jesus instructed Peter to go catch a fish, open its mouth and remove some money from it and use it to pay the temple tax, what he was doing was employing the miraculous to solve a financial problem in the temple. I can go on and on and space and time won’t allow me to finish giving examples.
In our day and age though there is a dramatic advancement in science and technology yet the miraculous has not lost its essence. Healing evangelists are moving from town to town, city to city and country to country, healing the sick, raising the dead and above all restoring the lost to the fold of God. These are examples of social problems being solved by the hand of God. Advancement in knowledge doesn’t mean the miraculous is outmoded neither does the miraculous imply that there is no need for pursuing knowledge. We need Christians to function in both capacities to the glory of God. I believe the advancement humanity has made in knowledge helps us (those who haven’t experienced certain health problems before) appreciate the cost of a miracle sometimes. Until you know how expensive an eye surgery is, you will never understand the joy of a poor blind man healed at one of the Healing Jesus Crusades organized by Bishop Dag Heward Mills. We may never know what it feels like to be blind, but the fact that we can put a price tag on what it takes to make a blind man see, when his sight is restored unto him by an act of God, we too can understand to some extent what it means.
The miraculous must always be employed to solve problems in the lives of people and ultimately bring glory and joy to God. Jesus said in Matthew 10:8 “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give”. This sounds like a command to believers. We are commanded to do these things. Are you carrying out this command? Am I? The last sentence also sounds like a caveat. We are warned by Jesus to do all these things without taking a fee because the ability to do miracles is given to believers freely. Remember, when a socially impactful activity is made for sale it is no longer a noble act but a business. So may we not make profit from that which we have been commanded to give freely.