Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Hometown Syndrome

When we as Christians look at the Bible, we read of many amazing things that Jesus did. From feeding the 5,000, to walking on water, to casting out demons, and healing every kind of sickness, disease, and disability, Jesus did it all. However, there is a story in Scripture that appears in three of the four gospels. This is when Jesus goes to his hometown, Nazareth.

This story takes place in Mark 6. Up to this point in Mark, Jesus has already raised the dead, healed a paralyzed man, cast out demons, and calmed a storm, just to name a few. His fame began to spread all over Israel, as a man who spoke with authority, and backed up what he said with miracles. However, in Mark 6, when he went to his hometown, everything was different. In verses 5 and 6 it says: "He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith." I will repeat that part one more time: "He could not do any miracles there, except..." Jesus could NOT do any miracles there. And, the miracles that he did were "exceptions."

I read that verse growing up, and was always bothered by it. Then this summer I heard a word from an evangelist that sparked a lot of thought in me. Eric Samuel Timm was preaching and he mentioned this passage. He noted that he had also been bothered by it in the past. Until he realized something. Jesus's power never had any limitations, it was the people that put limitations on Jesus. 

That is just as true today as it was back then. Christ's power has no limitations, yet people still put their own limitations on Jesus. In this passage I can see Jesus going into his hometown. Seeing people that he grew up with. His old neighbors. His old friends. People who already had in their mind who they thought Jesus was, and what he was capable of. So, Jesus comes strolling in, wanting to preach the good news that the Kingdom of God is near, and perform miracles. Then, he runs into a roadblock. These people don't believe that he can do what is rumored about him. They hear that he healed the sick, and raised the dead. But they think: "I know Jesus. I know what he is capable of. He can't do that stuff!" They had a "lack of faith."

The church in America has been around for a few hundred years now. You go on the street and ask someone if they know Jesus, and they have at least heard of him. They probably know that he died for us, or something like that. Many people grow up going to church, going to confirmation, or maybe youth group. Everyone thinks that they know who this Jesus guy is, and what he is capable of. Some don't believe he ever really existed, while others think he was a good guy who did a lot good deeds. So, when they hear that he can heal, they laugh it off. They doubt it. They don't believe it. But then in other countries, where the gospel has gone in recent times, we hear of amazing miracles. I just went to Africa last month, where churches are constantly seeing God demonstrate his power. But we wonder, why doesn't that happen here in America?

The reason: the Hometown Syndrome. America has become Jesus's home town. Everybody recognizes his name. Everyone thinks that they know what he is capable of. They place limitations upon Jesus. Because of this, Jesus doesn't do any miracles. The only miracles he does are "exceptions," just like in Mark 6. We still hear of miracles in America, but they are very rare.

In other nations, where miracles occur more regularly, the church is constantly praying. They see a need, and they pray. They pray for someone with cancer, then after they pray they tell them to go to the hospital to get a scan, because the cancer is gone in Jesus name. They expect Jesus to move.They have no limitations on Jesus. They have no preconceived notions. No ideas of what Jesus is capable of, outside of what the Word of God tells them. So, God moves in His power. 

Jesus does not want the demonstration of his power to be rare. We need to stop placing limitations upon Jesus's power. This change starts in the church. Jesus has the power to do miracles, and he wants to do them through each of us. So, let's start praying for and expecting miracles. Let's start being bold and start stepping out for people who need a miracle. Let's truly expect of Jesus what we claim we believe, which is, Jesus heals. 

No comments:

Post a Comment