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Magical Faith

Magical Faith

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13

At our house, we recently watched a movie about children gifted with magical powers. As they grew, they developed the ability to do amazing things – heal wounds, fight trolls, and simply clean up messy bedrooms – all with a with a wave of their enchanted wands. It’s an appealing idea. It would be so much easier to do everything with magic, avoiding all the sacrifice, time, and hard work usually required for such endeavors. If we all had such wands and abilities, life would be much simpler, right?

For many of us, this is the initial allure of faith. For the one whose known nothing but addiction and its miserable consequences for his entire adult life, the idea of instantly being set free, is profoundly appealing. It’s certainly easier than going to treatment and changing his entire life. For the one who’s newly diagnosed with diabetes, the thought of radical healing is much more attractive than taking insulin and checking blood sugars for the rest of his life. Even when we lose our car keys, when we’re in a hurry, it’s sometime just natural to pray that God miraculously make them appear in our pockets than to retrace our steps, looking for them.

We have some reason to hope for the miracle. There are many fascinating examples of healing in the Bible and, as Christians, we believe in the Bible. Often though, we read selectively, focusing in on the quick, easy transformation stories, hoping for the same kind of no-effort or no-change fix to our life problems. In today’s passage though, Peter instructed his readers to prepare for action as they fixed the focus of their lives on Christ. Theirs was not meant to be a do-nothing faith, but rather an action faith as they looked to God, following him with their lives and behavior.

This doesn’t mean we cannot pray for the miracle. When, however, praying for the miracle prevents us from being obedient, we’re doing prayer and faith wrong. This magical or pseudo-faith is actually the enemy of authentic faith. Authentic faith goes to God, perhaps asking for the miracle, but then also asking God what he wants us to do. The addict and the diabetic may pray for instant deliverance or healing, but miracles are, by definition, rare. Waiting for the miracle should never preclude or prevent obedience and action. When we need transformation, we must go to God, asking what he wants us to do. Then, we must do it.

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