Yes ... I am still talking about the traits of the early Church depicted in Acts 2. The subject is fertile ground for growing in the faith. And the traits are the things we should cultivate in the Church of 2019. One of these traits is the wonder of God's work in and through His people.
The subject of wonders is like a three-legged stool. Here are the three legs.
Awareness - Jesus said that we should be wary of signs and wonders and the way they can draw us in to the wrong frame of mind. Matthew 12:39 says, "Only an evil and adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign." Jesus is reminding us of how we equate the things that impress us with the power of God. An orator with charisma and volume is followed by many ... we fail to sift the things being said. A clever spokesperson uses the smoke and mirrors of speech to deceive us ... and we are impressed. In Jesus' day He healed many, calmed storms, restored sight to the blind and raised the dead ... and He was crucified. We should be cautious and discerning about signs and wonders.
Attribution - People often attribute signs and wonders to the person or group. That is not the Biblical model. Jesus, in John 14:13, tells His disciples that when He acts on their prayers it is His action and for the glory of the Father in Heaven. Jesus repeatedly prays before performing miracles, attributing the end result to the Father ... seeking the glory of the Father. Peter performs miracles in Acts but he is clear that this does not happen in his own power ... it is God's action through him. So, a church that says 'holy water' can be applied to achieve healing ... another that says a ritual will result in answered prayer ... another who has a charismatic leader that professes the ability to heal on queue ... all need to be looked-at through the lens of Scripture. Signs and wonders that are described in the early Church are from God, for God's glory and have the ultimate purpose of pointing to God's power.
Astonishment - When God works in our midst, I wonder if we make one of several mistakes. One is, we miss it entirely. Carolyn Arends writes (in There You Are) "I was hoping you would write to me, a message in the stars, as if the stars themselves were not enough." Isaiah 40 says, "Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens. Who created all of these?" We look at stars, sunsets, trees, animals and even people as things ... not as part of the creation of a mighty God. The second is we see it as less that it really is. We give thanks for healing but fail to be awed by the majesty of the one who heals. The council in Jerusalem calls Peter on the carpet for preaching and performing signs and wonders and says "Stop!" rather than thinking through to the source of those miracles. The third is that we have lost our sense of awe and are, shockingly, awed at all the wrong things. We should be astonished at God every day! Arends writes in another line, "I was waiting for a miracle and looking for a sign, as if each breath I take is not enough." We should be astounded at the magnitude and the microscopic attention of God. We look up, and God is there. We look into the smallest particle of life ... and God is there too. The tag line of Arends song might be the biggest miracle of all ... "There You are, loving me like crazy!" God sees all of our flaws and failures and looks past them to the possibilities of the great things He can accomplish with our obedience. Pretty amazing!
In Acts 2:43 it says ... "A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders." In a society impressed with football, actors, swag and stuff, maybe the people called Christians should have a different, Biblical and better standard! Randy