RECLAIMING MIRACLES


We love miracles – at least the idea of miracles. Each of us wants to be touched or rescued by God in a way that is touch tangible, directly personal, and inexplicably wonderful. We know that not everyone gets to experience a miracle. We know good and faithful people who are deserving, people who would benefit so much from a miracle. We know good and faithful people who suffer so much and never receive a miracle. Miracles seem so rare and fickle. Rarity and randomness seem to be part of what constitutes a miracle.

When we study the scripture and we find an act of divine intervention, a miracle – it is of secondary concern, almost a red herring. The purpose and focus of the narrative is not the miracle. The lesson of the narrative either surrounds the miracle or is much deeper than the miracle. The miracle either draws us to the lesson or is a gateway to the lesson. The miracle always serves the lesson. The lesson is neither subservient nor inferior to the miracle.

Miracles are prohibitively expensive. The cost of living in a universe that includes miracles requires a God who is capricious. Miracles require a Zeus or a Jupiter. Miracles require a God who is – unpredictably – either angry and onerous or calm and benevolent. It requires a God who is petty and arrogant and who has no qualms about interfering in, controlling, or playfully dabbling in the course of human events. This is a pagan god. This is not a theology that expands or promotes human understanding or raises the human condition. It is not a theology that enriches or informs the human experience. With a capricious God, our lives are a constant gamble and the universe is one big craps table.

This is not the God we worship. We do not worship a capricious God. We worship a God who is consistent – consistently and constantly loving, present, and inviting. A God who is consistent (who is not capricious) does not engage in either miracles of healing or miracles of retribution. God neither intervenes nor condemns, neither rescues nor punishes.

Have you ever been in the presence of an excellent person? Have you ever been in the presence of someone who has a gift and who excels in the use of that gift? A trained gifted singer can raise the performance level of an entire choir. Just one knowledgeable competent person can raise the performance level of an entire office. It is not by their sole efforts. It is by the singular influence of excellence on others, in the way that the presence of excellence inspires and enables others to excel in their respective gifts.

That is how God works. God is a presence – an influential guiding presence of excellence. God is not intrusive or manipulative, demanding or passive/aggressive. God is an influential guiding presence of excellence only to the extent that we make ourselves aware of it and learn to be sensitive to it. God can imbue our being – our thoughts, emotions, choices, actions, our very life essence – only through our invitation and practice.

In that context, in the presence and influence and guidance of an excellent God, there can be a miracle – the resurrection and transformation of the human spirit to a life of Good News, to being the Kingdom of God. Such a resurrection of spirit and radical transformation of character deserves the respect and wonder and contemplation that has always been reserved for the miraculous.

by Doug Sloan

Doug is a member of Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Terre Haute, Indiana. Central Christian is an open and affirming congregation where he has served as Elder and Treasurer and enjoys his continuing membership in the choir. He graduated in 2009 with a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Indiana State University and a BS in Management Information Systems from Ball State University in 1997. Since August 2005, he has been a member of the CIS Adjunct Faculty at the Terre Haute campus of Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. He has been published in DisciplesWorld and Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice. Doug is married to Carol, a First Grade teacher, and is the father of two sons.
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previous posts by Doug Sloan:
RECLAIMING CHURCH
GOD IS…
RECLAIMING GOD
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an updated version of GOD IS…

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next post:
RECLAIMING NOT
July 29, 2010

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About Doug Sloan

Doug is a member of Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 4950 East Wabash Avenue, P.O. Box 3125, Terre Haute, IN 47803-0125 (812-877-9959). Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is an open and affirming congregation. Doug is an Elder, has served as Treasurer, enjoys his continuing membership in the choir as the lowest voiced bass and currently is serving as an At-Large member of the Regional Board of the Indiana Disciples of Christ. As a member of the O&A Elders group, he helped write a resolution to change the ordination policy of the Indiana Region. The resolution will be presented at the 2012 Indiana Regional Assembly. He graduated in 2009 with a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Indiana State University and a BS in Management Information Systems from Ball State University in 1997. Since August 2005, he has been a member of the CIS Adjunct Faculty at the Terre Haute campus of Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. He has been published in DisciplesWorld and Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice. In the summer of 2010, Doug became a contributor to this blog: [D]mergent.org

7 thoughts on “RECLAIMING MIRACLES

  1. “God neither intervenes nor condemns, neither rescues nor punishes.”
    I always feel sorry for the poor slob whose house is utterly destroyed by a tornado. Not so much because he’s lost everything, though there is that. What really gets me is the implications of the inevitable interview with the neighbor down the street who avers that “God was watching out for us today,” or, “It was a miracle! We were blessed!”
    Nobody wants to think that one through. Thank you for pointing out the paganism underlying such a statement. One almost expects a libation to be poured to honor the God Who Favors His Faithful Servants.
    While the guy down the street wonders where he went wrong as he sifts through the rubble.

  2. Doug,

    I too always cringe when someone asserts their good forttune to be an intentional blessing from God. And, at the same time, when someone affirms me, I will be the first to say that it’s not me but God working through me. It seems to be a difficult balance between claiming too much and claiming too little.

    John

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