Our concept of the spiritual world is really strange sometimes. We often miss the truly spiritual things because we are focused on what we think is spiritual. We can easily miss the forest for the trees.
Luke 17 is a good example. The young disciples thought their biggest need was to increase their faith. The well-meaning but deceived and law-bound Pharisees were concerned with the end times and the coming of the kingdom of God. But Jesus ties strong faith to mundane things like doing a good job, honoring relationships and humility. Also, he reminds those looking for some future eschatological event to usher in the kingdom of God, that the kingdom is here among us now – here in the forest among the trees.
Typical things are supernatural. Most every saint wants to see the miraculous, supernatural turning of water into wine. “Let me see the miracle, and I will be satisfied,” we say. But come with me to the vineyard and see the rain and the dew water the ground and nourish the vine. See the sun ripen the fruit from which the wine comes. See the vine fed, quite astonishingly I’d say, through photosynthesis and see the grapes ripen turn from green to red. In quiet ways, every day, throughout history since creation, water became wine in the vineyard. And it is no less miraculous than the “event” that Jesus did two thousand years ago. If we are not careful, we miss the miraculous happening around us each day of our lives. The turning of sperm and egg into a living child; the growth of love into commitment in a marriage or community; the increase within a soul who loves God; the daily leading of the Holy Spirit. All of these are water-into-wine miracles.
Think of it. While the religious people around him were concerned with faith and eschatology, Jesus taught the following lessons through his words and actions:
- Do not cause others to sin
- Make relationships great again (rebuke, forgive, reconcile)
- Serve (do your duty) with responsibility and humility
- Be grateful and don’t be silent when God blesses your life
Oh, but surely, these are just ordinary things: boring, monotonous, everyday occurrences. Surely God is not in them. But he is. He is working out a beautiful love in the changing of a diaper. He is showing himself gloriously when we do our jobs well. The smallest act of kindness can bring the kingdom of God into the heart of an unsuspecting, struggling person.
Let’s not lose the forest for the trees. Let’s not miss the miraculous among the mundane. Let’s ask the Father to open our eyes to how the supernatural invades natural life all around us.