The Castrated God
He did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:58
Once, my idea of recovery was that God would magically change my appetite – while I was still using – and then my behavior would follow. When God didn’t do what I wanted, I blamed him. Maybe he didn’t care or he just couldn’t help me. If he didn’t fix me, maybe he was powerless over my addiction or perhaps he didn’t even exist.
This seems to be similar to the scenario described by Matthew in today’s passage. In the story, Jesus went to his childhood home and was promptly dismissed as nothing, because they knew him. Is not this the carpenter’s son (Matthew 13:55)? He wasn’t the son of God. He didn’t do any mighty miracles. And so, they refused to believe in him.
It seems that the answer to their disbelief would be to unleash his magnificent power, proving himself, but Jesus did the exact opposite. They refused faith, and so, Jesus did nothing. He just walked away, performing no miracles.
I very much doubt that God is actually dependent on our faith. He could prove himself if he wanted. When we don’t believe, we don’t tie his hands or castrate him. However, in his infinite wisdom, God desires for the world to work a certain way, and so it is. When we practice faith, God works in our lives. When we don’t need him, or don’t truly have faith, he puts his transforming power away, appearing to us to be impotent.
When God doesn’t work in our lives though, it is never that he is powerless, but rather, it is our faith that is anemic. Faith is not thinking really hard that God will answer our prayers. Faith is believing in God, keeping our eyes on him, and acting accordingly, without knowing the end result. In my addiction, this meant that I needed, not to pray more for magical healing, but to obey, going to treatment and making the radical life changes necessary to get sober. Only then, did I see his magnificent, transforming power unleashed in my life.
When God doesn’t do things the way we want, it is never because he is impotent. He just has a different way. He is in charge and we are not. To know faith, life, and recovery, we must daily practice this faith, doing whatever it takes to abandon our way, following his.