By Jaise K. George, Jabalpur
In today’s world, we slowly stumble on the fact that miraculous healing is turning out to be a very inevitable part of Christian ministry. And this idea is well propagated in most of the religious TV channels. Jesus and his disciples, during their life time, healed many sick people. But they never had the attitude put out by today’s so called ministry healers. Spirituality propagated through miracles is being dissected here.
Mimicking the godly behavior showed by Jesus in our daily life and making reality, the authenticity of the resurrected Jesus Christ can be attributed as the real spirituality. This spirituality is not confined to a person. This is a phenomenon that has to be exhibited in the social life through human relationship. When our relationship with God starts to exhibit in our relationship with fellow human being, a true sense of mysticism can be witnessed. In other words, spirituality is all about practically demonstrating the behavior of Jesus Christ in our daily social life. This is what should be promulgated in Christian Ministerial works.
But through the miracles and all other forms of extraordinary happenings, we see only a highlighted picture of Christ meant only to look upon in the time of need. Spirituality is brought down plainly as a means of getting things done. This is like going to a distinguished medical doctor who comes to the scene when a sickness appears. When his medication works, a feeling of gratitude followed by a spreading of his virtues. Spiritualism is much more than just healing, wonders and extraordinary events.
Even in the beginning of His public ministry, Jesus took great effort to win over temptation of becoming a savior catering to the simple worldly needs of the people. The reaction of Jesus towards these temptations gives a very coherent picture of his efforts and vision of work while taking the form of a human being on Earth. He never wished to attract people by giving physical wealth (the temptation of making bread from stone St. Luke 4:3), or by creating political authority through conquering Roman Empire (temptation for giving authority St. Luke 4:6), or by performing miracles (by jumping from temple St. Luke 4:9). His decision was to submit himself for God’s wish and perform Messiah’s mission as a suffering servant. Once when Peter incited Jesus to deviate from this approach, Jesus reprimanded saying “Get away from me Satan, your thoughts don’t come from God but from Man. (St. Mark 8:33)
Jesus never promised any sort of worldly riches on Earth to his disciples. “Listen, I am sending you out just like sheep to a pack of wolves…. Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the world. No. I did not come to bring peace but a sword (St. Mathew 10:16-39). Whoever comes to me cannot be my disciple, unless he loves me more than his father and his mother…. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple (St Luke 14: 26-27). These can be considered as the core essence of following Jesus. But today, we do not see teaching that draws people to follow Jesus with its challenges.
It can be noted in the Bible that even relatives advised Jesus to make fame and acceptance through miracles. “Leave this place and go to Judea, so that your followers will see the things that you are doing. No one hides what he is doing if he wants to be well known. Since you are doing these things let the whole world knows about you”. (St. John 7:4). Jesus answered “The right time for me has not yet come” (St. John 7:6).
The phrase ‘my time’ in John’s Gospel signifies crucifixion of Jesus. He wished to attract people through cross. “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to me”. (St. John 12:32). He never intended to be famous by any miraculous healing. Jesus sent back healed people by warning them, “Don’t tell anybody about this”.
When the reality of Christ is drawn through miracles and wonders only, we are actually defaming the Almighty God’s love and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. Christian leaders should actually advocate the picture of Christ who died on the cross and repent our sins.
But today, there isn’t any real repentance or remorse. Miracles are publicized as the standard dimension of spirituality. Wealth and happiness are blessings from God! Sadness, poverty and sickness are Satan’s! Materialistic wealthy people are the blessed ones! Weak and sick people are the discarded ones of God! High social and economic progress has become spiritual motto. Prayer is a media for getting wealth and happiness. It is very usual to find in large conventions or assemblies, that a very few who gets healed are excited and jump around shouting praises to God. But the majority goes disappointed as they do not see anything stimulating or extraordinary in their life. Only time will prove how much transformation actually happens in the long run.
We are also witnessing a very strong change in the outlook towards prayer which is considered as the most powerful tool towards spiritualism. Prayer is not a method to satisfy our endless worldly desires. “May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” this should be our prayer.
According to Jesus the experience of personal attachment with father Almighty God was prayer. There is only one request for physical blessing in the prayer which Christ taught his disciples. This also was not intended for personal or self-centered purpose. “Give us today the food we need” – this was that request. We can also interpret it as the food in the Kingdom of God. In Christ’s prayer if we examine the order of requests we can understand the fact that the priority is given to the prayer for God’s country and glory.
“I will do whatever you ask for in my name” (John 14:13)- this is the promise given to us. To pray in the name of Christ means to pray with the spirit of Christ. “When you pray, do not use a lot of meaningless words, as the pagans do” (St. Mathew 6:7) - this is Jesus’ teaching about prayer. God is a person who knows our needs before we request (6:8). He is our secret father (6:6). This approach is not meant to ignore the need or the responsibility of interceding and praying for the deprived.
The 6th chapter of Gospel of St. John’s starts with the verses "A large crowd followed him, because they had seen his miracles of healing those who were ill" (6:2). But at the end we saw “Many of Jesus’ followers turned back and would not go with him any more.” (6:66). The people who are coming for eating bread and watching miracles have to detach from him.(6:26,32). If we are giving more importance to miracles, we also might end turning back like them.
And so the true spirituality should never be measured with the limits of miracles it can deliver.
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