People often want something tangible, visual, and “real” before they will believe in a loving God, indeed in our loving Jesus. I guess that if our faith were like science this would be reasonable….but it’s not. A relationship with Jesus is not based on academics any more than a relationship with my wife is based on academics. As I have come to know Jesus, to many times I have seen or experienced things that defied science. Just like in the next Scriptures from Mark, where, as Jesus is baptized, the heavens are ripped open and a dove, symbolizing both peace as well as a sacrifice, descends and the voice of God is heard saying, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”. You may say, “sure”…………..I say, “”WOW!”.
Mark 1:9-11 (TNIV)
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Matthew 27:50-51 (TNIV)
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split
I find it interesting that at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, as He was baptized, “he saw heaven being torn open” (Mark 1:10) and at the end of His ministry, at the moment of His death, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split” (Matthew 27:51)
The Greek word translated as “torn” in both these Scriptures is “schizo” [skhid-zo], with a fuller meaning of a physical tearing or opening. It can also mean to divide or split apart. And this is exactly what happened. As heaven split open, a dove, a bringer of peace, as well as an offering, descended and we hear the voice of the Father. This was the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. Then as Jesus died on the cross, at the moment of His death….the curtain in the temple was torn….opening up the reality that humankind could now relate to God individually.
I have had many experiences that defy what many would call “reason”. In, I believe it was 2002, I went to my first Promise Keeper’s conference in Tampa with my pastor, Steve Swan. I had been asking Steve for months how to deepen my relationship with Jesus. He always told me to simply pray, read the bible and sensitive to God’s leading. I was trying, but I just seemed to be spinning my wheels. We went to this conference and it was a cloudy day. There were probably 10,000 men in this arena. The theme for the conference was “Storm the Gates”. The master of ceremonies came out and welcomed us as a fanfare of music and praising God was taking place. He told us about the events of the coming two days and at the end of his introduction he proclaimed, “Now we are going to STORM the gates!” before he could finish his sentence, as soon as he said “storm” a thunderous sound shook the building, ON CUE, but it wasn’t something that was planned for the day. 10,000 men stood silent and all he could say was…”wow! That wasn’t us!”.
I believe that this was a sign that something big gonna happen that day. Indeed, I know in my heart that many lives were changed that day. The least of which was my life, which was changed forever. A speaker came out, Bruce Wilkinson, who was speaking on the topic of growing your relationship with God. He loudly proclaimed that as men, we needed to get up EARLY every day and pray, study and listen to Jesus! I turned to Pastor Steve and said, “that’s the answer Steve!” I had been coming home from work in the evenings and trying to apply these relational measures to no avail….way too much distraction and winding down needed from my workday. I am retired Army (I was a Chem Dog, LOL)…so…I am used to getting up early and even welcome it! I remember that I thought it was funny that Pastor Steve turned to me and said that not everyone could get up early to study and pray. I also remember telling Pastor Steve that God probably wasn’t talking to everyone that day….but He sure was talking to me!
Since that day in 2002, I have risen early to pray, study and to listen in the quietness of my heart for God’s still small voice. In 2003 I felt called to ministry as a pastor (at least it seemed like that was what I felt I was hearing). In 2008 I was ordained into pastoral ministry here at LifePoint Christian Church.
Will visible signs convince everyone? The “sign” that really brings us to faith is the power of God’s message to answer the cry of our heart. To those who are confused, God offers a mind enlightened by faith. To those who are depressed, God offers a reason for joy. To those who are lonely, God offers eternal companionship. And to those who seek a loving father, a friend, a mentor, a Savior, God is there, indeed, Jesus will make Himself known to your heart, mind, and soul!
You may experience a “sign” in your life. I have experienced many. But a visible “sign” is not the key. Instead, simply seek a cleansed and renewed life as evidence of his presence. And yes, I believe you will know that presence, unmistakably!