Thursday, September 13, 2007

Involved in Miracles

I am reading a book by the president of the International Justice Mission, Gary Haugen called "Good News About Injustice." In the seventh chapter, there is a section that I think just needs to be read by everyone, so I'm going to type it out here.

'A preacher once asked me (and the rest of his congregation) to consider a scene that has stayed with me ever since. He asked us to recall the story about the feeding of the five thousand. The disciples brought complaints about the hungry multitude to Jesus, and he responded compassionately by blessing the bits of food from a boy's lunch - five loaves of bread and two fishes. "Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They ate and all were satisfied" (Matthew 14:19). The speaker then asked us to imagine a scenario in which the disciples just kept thanking Jesus for all the bread and fish - without passing them along to the people. He asked us to imagine the disciples starting to be overwhelmed by the piles of multiplying loaves and fish surrounding them, yelling out to Jesus, "Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!" - all the while never passing along the food to people. And then beneath the mounting piles of food, the disciples even could be heard complaining to Jesus that he wasn't doing anything about the hungry multitude.

'This simple illustration struck my heart deeply. How kind of Jesus to include the boy and the disciples in his miracle. Surely he could have done it differently. Surely he could have commanded the heavens to unload manna and quail right on top of everybody. But how beautifully he included the boy's tiny offering. Jesus (the Creator of all things, seen and unseen) no more needed those five loaves and two fish than my wife and I need our three-year-old's "help" in baking cinnamon rolls for visitors. But what a wonderful, life-changing day for that boy to be part of Jesus' miracle. How fun for the disciples to go among the grateful, joyful multitudes - to be the hands dispensing Christ's supernatural power and love. How ridiculous, on the other hand, that they should imagine that the vast piles of bread and fish should be given to them for any other reason than to feed those who were in need.

'So too with the ministry of God's rescue for the oppressed in the world. How does God rescue the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked? Overwhelmingly, he does it through those who choose to follow him in faith and obedience. He doesn't need our "help," but he chooses to use us.

'Look at the millions of bonded child laborers in India or the thousands of child prostitutes in Asia or thousands of torture victims twisting and bleeding in the world's forgotten jail cells, we can say to God, "Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you for all the power, protection, freedom and justice you have granted us in sparing us from such fates. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!"

'Or we can ask, "What have you given me, Father, that I might help those who don't have power, who don't have protection, who don't have freedom, who don't have justice?"'

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