Why are you amazed?

Amazed“Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?” – Acts 3:12

I can read about miracles in the Bible and not be amazed. The flannel graph presentations of my youth have made the stories so familiar that too often I do not connect with how radical the events actually were. This healing should amaze me but its familiarity masks how marvelous it really is.

But how would I respond if I actually witnessed a miracle of this nature?

In Acts 3, Peter and John passed by a lame man who frequented the gate to the Temple. Rather than giving the man some money, they grabbed him by the hand and commanded him to get up and walk. Not only did he walk, the formerly lame man was jumping around and praising God for the miracle.

Yes, the people who saw this were amazed. Which is exactly how I would be under the same circumstances.

Peter then asks them the question quoted at the beginning of this post, “why are you amazed at this?” The people who witnessed the miracle were coming to the Temple, the place where the miracle working God of Israel’s history was to be worshiped. They should have come to that God with the expectation that he would intervene on behalf of his people.

The people had low expectations as to what God was willing to do on their behalf.

Perhaps I am speaking only for myself, but it seems that those of us who grew up in the church have low expectations as to what God is willing to do for us. Do I pray as if I expect the miracle to take place? Am I banging on the doors of Heaven in anticipation of my petition being heard and a response enacted?

The notion that God’s response to my prayers is in proportion to the faith in which I offer them is dangerous and goes against Biblical teaching. I am certainly not saying that my expectation of being answered is the currency that buys a correct response from God. God is not a vending machine that gives me what I want if I put in the right amount of money. The amount and quality of my faith has nothing to do with it. My expectation of an answered prayer is not something that I can muster up. I don’t need to exercise my “faith muscles.”

What I am saying is that my prayers are tepid because I am not allowing myself to connect with how awesome and powerful God really is.

I need to remind myself that God does want to work in history, this is the major lesson from the incarnation. God does want to bring healing (emotional and physical). God does want to draw people to himself. God does want to bring me through the difficulties of life with my faith intact. I should not be amazed when I see him doing the very things for which I pray.

Then when God acts, I should be grateful but not amazed.