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(Part 42)


April 20, 2013

Today’s readings:
Acts 9:31-42
John 6:60-69

Jesus calls all to BE.LI.EV.E, so that we might all experience the salvation he won for us on the cross. When we BE.LI.EV.E, we will necessarily evangelize. This is so that many others will hear the good news of salvation in Jesus. So we have faith, and with faith we do works, and as we are instruments of an all-powerful God, our faith works wonders. The wonders are a necessary ingredient for attracting others to the faith.

And so it was that when Peter healed Aeneas, “all the inhabitants of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.” (Acts 9:35). Likewise, when Peter raised Tabitha from the dead, “this became known all over Joppa, and many came to believe in the Lord.” (Acts 9:42). Signs and wonders accompany authentic works of faith. And such signs and wonders are used by God to bring many more to faith in Jesus.

While miracles still happen today (it is the same all-powerful God at work), we might not perform such astounding and dramatic works as Peter’s instant miraculous healing of Aeneas and raising of the dead Tabitha. But indeed, there are still a lot of wonders that happen with authentic Christian ministry. There are those who undergo a 180-degree conversion, a literal movement from darkness to light. There are a lot of miraculous physical healings that result from the prayers of God’s community of believers.

What needs to happen, so that we might have the faith that works wonders? How must we be so that we can evangelize effectively and bring many more to Christ? After the conversion of Saul, the church “was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the holy Spirit it grew in numbers.” (Acts 9:31b). How was the early church successful in her evangelistic efforts?

  • She “was being built up.” We need continuing formation. We need to be more and more like Christ, so that we can become more effective instruments he can use. We need to be united in the one vision and mission.
  • She “walked in the fear of the Lord.” We continue to be in awe of our Almighty God. We come to Him in worship. We obey Him. We walk along the straight path of holiness and righteousness.
  • She enjoyed “the consolation of the holy Spirit.” We look to the Holy Spirit for guidance and empowerment. We look to the Spirit for consolation and strength amidst trials and tribulations. We live such that we are fitting temples of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, we need to understand, believe and accept the hard teachings of our Lord Jesus. The way is difficult and challenging. The way of Christ overturns the wisdom of the world, to which many are accustomed. Jesus calls us to be holy as God is holy, to deny self, to embrace the cross, to rejoice in suffering, to love our enemies, to be perfect. Unfortunately the posture of many is: “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” (Jn 6:60b), then they proceed to reject the hard teachings. Jesus wants to bring us to a point of faith where we will experience wonders. Unfortunately, “there are some of you who do not believe.” (Jn 6:64a). More tragically, there are those whom Jesus calls, but they prefer not to grapple with his hard sayings, and just turn away, preferring the comfort of their darkened world. “As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.” (Jn 6:66).

Jesus calls us to BE.LI.EV.E. Jesus challenges us with the high ideals of the faith, and with the great work of proclaiming Christ to the world. He does not hide from us the opposition, persecution, suffering and pain that we will endure. He just assures us of his presence and help. He assures us that if we BE.LI.EV., then we will E, that is, enter into eternal life. Ought not our response be clear? By the grace of God and our faith in Jesus, we must say, like Peter, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (Jn 6:68).

We are called to BE.LI.EV.E. There is only one way to go, only one response, only one way forward. “We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” (Jn 6:69). With such faith, we do our work. And we do so with the conviction that faith works wonders.

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