Something I thought of recently was the way various groups of people reacted to the wonders Jesus performed when he came into their communities. In some cases, they attracted people. Mostly those who needed deliverance or healing. This seems pretty natural. Then there were those who felt threatened by His works because they upset a power structure they wished to maintain. But there was still another reaction some people had: fear.
Some of it was a healthy fear such as we are called to have for God, but there was also an actual terror that came upon some. Look for example at the story of Jesus driving out the legion of demons in the Gerasenes.
Luke 8:35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. –ESV
In verse 37 it reiterates that they were “seized with great fear.” So much so that they asked Jesus to leave, which He did. I found it interesting the extent of Jesus’ selflessness here. He sailed all the way over to these people, did one mighty work and was rejected. But instead of completely leaving them on their own, he instructed the man who was delivered, to stay behind and declare the wonders of God. He saw one possible way to reach them and used it, though He could have taken their rejection personally.
Contrastingly, all the reactions I named above to His miracles are completely selfish, with the exception of reverent fear. It seems the best we can do in our fallen state is to selfishly accept Jesus rather than selfishly rejecting Him. But once we are spiritual, it is possible to have the proper reaction of reverence.
The carnal person will experience one or all of the three selfish reactions listed above, with one dominating and leading to their ultimate reaction. If God’s work interferes with their control of their own, or other peoples’ lives, they might reject it for that selfish reason. If they have an uncontrollable fear of the works of God since they represent an unknown realm, they might reject it for that reason.
Interestingly enough, those who have an unhealthy fear of God’s wonders, have no fear or special regard for the opposite works of calamity, such as sickness, death and accidents. These are fruits of darkness we have become so accustomed to and comfortable with in our carnal state, that when they are abruptly reversed we are shocked and afraid. As strange as it may seem, in our carnal state we are more comfortable with bondage, corruption, sickness and death than the wonders of God.
But if for some reason we have one or multiple deficiencies in our own lives—greater than the reservations we might otherwise have—we are in a position to throw caution to the wind and accept Jesus selfishly in order to correct those problems. Though this is a selfish position, it is the only one that can salvage us from our carnal state and bring us to a spiritual reverence. It is a measure of faith that God honors and uses to draw us deeper.
So let’s embrace the wonders of God, whatever our motives might be and let God adjust our motive along the way. Whatever we do, we simply need to start somewhere and accept God’s grace—it will lead to even greater wonders along the way.