I think the best way to approach miracles in our time is to say that they are occurrences that defy the reasonable expectations of understood technologies and/or seem to demand the experience of a sense of wonder. Miracles change how we understand the world. That which was once a miracle may not be a miracle once the new understanding becomes common knowledge. Television was miracle, but is now not. This is an example of a transitory miracle.
There are other miracles, such as birth, joy, agreement, love and the like which are well within out technological capabilities, yet still demand the experience of wonder. These could be termed common miracles.
Another type of miracle would be the uncommon miracle. The re-growth of a human hand would be considered an uncommon miracle. These are the claims of many biblical miracles (i.e. raising from the dead, parting the sea, etc.). They are miracles in that certainly defy technological expectations. They are uncommon in that they appear to be impossible due to the fact that they are not generally repeatable even if they are claimed to have happened. Also, even if they seem impossible they would have to have a physical basis to have occurred and thus would simply become a transitory miracle once there was more understanding of the technology. In either case healthy skepticism should avoid taking actions that depend on an uncommon miracle for success. Our skepticism however should always allow for the transitory miracle to be discovered by available technologies.
Personal optimism is required for how we are to live our own lives. When we consider the great commandment this optimism can be extended to our neighbors. This optimism concerns the person’s potential to be influence by the spirit of the lord in some capacity because of His own self-proclaimed love for them.
This is does not mean that we are unwise concerning the negative disposition of some who may find our company. It is does mean that for us we are to not be moved by the negativity and follow the path that God has set for us to follow. This path is marked by serpentine optimism that creates opportunities for others do and learn the right thing.
By extending the optimism to others we are loving them as we love ourselves. The content of the optimism is of course customized to the person or situation.
The Christian with a sour face that lasts too long is not following God. At least not at that moment. The Christian with a sour face and overly negative disposition for their neighbors is not following God.
This optimism need not extend to positions on large complex interactions like national policy. Pessimism regarding the direction of the culture is different than the pessimism about the person in front of you.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4)
When bad things happen to us, we are to look upon that as opportunities for growth. This is the way of the gospel. Any other perspective is not biblical.
When bad things happen we still may feel pain. No where in scripture does it say we will not feel pain. This means that we may be feelings two conflicting or opposite emotions. We may feel joy knowing that a growth opportunity has come while at the same time feeling pain that we are in an uncomfortable situation.
Personal optimism is required in all situations. We are to believe that greater endurance will lead to greater results.
It goes without saying, yet there is a need to say it: love is the primary driver and content of all that we do.
We know that without love our actions have no meaning to God.
Knowing this, now we look to specify the content. There are many frameworks that can help. Choose the one that works for you.
What to do and when to do it: we can spend our time thinking about what we do to express love. What are the specific actions? The second aspect that is important is when the do the action. Timing can be everything.
Anchored feelings to flow through actions: Sometimes what is important is not the content but the way the content was delivered. This does not mean that the content is not important. It simply stresses the character of the content which creates the atmosphere of love.
Walking in the spirit: this is undoubtedly a more spiritual expression which tends to make referencing specific actions more difficult. Nonetheless, the implication of obedience that is closely tied with walking in the spirit is vital for expressing love. It can be connected to the what to do framework in that God is telling you what to do and when to do it. It can be connected to the anchored feelings framework in that walking in the spirit we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh and thus will be feeling something else while we walk.
Where there is no love there is no Spirit of God. For any of our actions to be worthwhile in our pursuit of God and the evangelism of his message, love must be our primary concern. This moves the conversation from whether or not to love to what does love look like.
except when there may be no poor among you… (Deutronomy 15:4)
For the poor will never cease from the land… (Deutorornony 15:11)
Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. (Acts 2:44-45)
These scriptures are a driving force behind what is to be a new community of believers. This community of believers would be interconnected in such a way that there would be no poor among them. The idea then would be to systematically take others out of poverty as well as continuing to aid the poor outside of the community.
There have been other examples of this idea in Christian and other circles (kibbutz, Mondragon Corporation, etc.). The time is coming for a new Christian community that fully acknowledges interconnected economic activity as central to the community.
This is one of my honest desires in God. To start or be a part of such a community. The vision is getting clearer.
At some point in your life you may find yourself on the outside and needing to be inside. Those on the inside, from their perspective, are just fine without you. You on the outside want to enjoy the benefits of being on the inside.
How do you get in?
It starts by believing that getting in is possible while also knowing that the state of being in does not make you. It is the ability to get in that is more important. If you can get in once, you can get in again. If you have the skills to get in doors, you can open the doors you need.
I am often considering what are the basic skills that are helpful in directing success.
The following abilities/skills/qualities/situations seem fundamental:
- Decision Making (Logic/Creativity)
These items seem to reflect much of which is unavoidable in living and if mastered can provide a sense of independence from the ups and downs that result between competing communities.