Do We Despise and Criticize the Holy Spirit? Thoughts on Miracles and Our Hatred of Them
False prophets, charlatans, and miracle hocking hucksters abound. One need only peruse through late night television, past the “Will it blend” infomercial as an over happy man tries to blend an Ipad or some other nonsense—as if that strength might help when making a smoothy. TBN and other such stations may carry a tent revival or some healing meeting in which people come forward in wheel chairs and in walkers. People with back pains, stomach cramps, and all sorts of ailments would stand and be slain by some invisible sword which the speak wielding, swinging and pounding the foreheads of the hurting, crippled, and lame. Often enough, one may see the person convulse on the ground or get up and run around the sanctuary.
Are these healings for real? Or put another way, are these televised miracles so fantastical that we must inevitably conclude this is all farce meant to entrap the gullible and those desperate enough to believe in such miracles—so that dying old grannies can send all their wealth to some televised pastoral personality?
It is easy to be cynical toward televangelists.
But the problem stems so much deeper.
We glibly live as if the Holy Spirit does not exist—or if He does, He is impotent and without power to do miracles or change our sin. Sure, we may say He does. But do we really believe that?
As a middle-school student, I attended Ambassador Christian Academy—an evangelical private school much like all the others which are scattered across the United States. Each Thursday during chapel, my friends and I, cynics and self-righteous know-it-alls to be sure, would sit and criticize the pastor. We would call him “old gobble neck” since he had a long drooping under-chin of loose skin and when he got really excited during his sermons, it would giggle and shack.
Our mocking gobbling turkey calls to one another were only satiated by the new “reverend” who came to teach at the school. He was a bit charismatic and spoke of angels and speaking in tongues and other such etherial “nonsense.” I liked my Christianity in a box. No crazy stuff please.
One Thursday, while “filled with the spirit” during worship, he began running around the sanctuary in jubilation. In mocking tone, we joined him prancing and running about like some spirit filled follow-the-leader.
As I look back on that now, I see what a mockery I made of the man and of the spirit moving in people—well, I made fun of anything and everything really, especially if it was Christian.
The notion that the spirit might compel a man to run around in joy, that angels might appear, or tongues might be spoken was simply nonsense. Moreover, the other “crazy” stuff like gold dust appearing all over people, jewels suddenly appearing, manna from heaven falling to the ground, and all other sorts of miracles seem foolish.
But the reality is, the Holy Spirit has done some radical and crazy things—only a small portion of which is recorded in the scripture. But what has been recorded is by no means out of character or out of line with what most American Evangelicals mock.
Are we stifling the spirit though our unbelief as 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 implies?
Give thanks in everything,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Don’t stifle the Spirit.
Don’t despise prophecies,
but test all things.
Hold on to what is good.
Stay away from every form of evil.”
Often enough, we skip past the testing part and just despise prophecies, miracles, and anything that contradicts modern sensibilities.
How do you all think we should treat such “miracles”?
What do you think about the “crazy stuff”—gold dust, jewels, and other such things?
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