Formulas – even if derived from the Bible – may very well work, but ultimately they may rob us of something greater.
Let me illustrate it with a simple Scripture. Matthew 14:34-36 says, “And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent around to all that region and brought to him all who were sick and implored him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.”
Touching the hem of Jesus’ garment to be healed may sound strange to us; but it made perfect sense to them. You see, in the Hebrew culture they had a belief that the “hem of the garment” of the Messiah had healing power.* So, their request shows us that the people of Gennesaret recognized Jesus as the Messiah and were trusting what their traditions had taught them.
What strikes me is that, in the presence of The Healer, their faith was resting on what they knew from their tradition, rather than on the Person who was before them. If their faith was on Jesus himself, they could have asked Him to heal them, however He wanted to; but they had a “formula” and they were convinced that this was the surest way of receiving what they expected.
Yes, they received what they were looking for. They believed that by touching the hem they would be healed. And they were. (And for that I rejoice). But what if Jesus wanted to heal them by touching them? Or simply by speaking a word? Is it possible that their “faith formula” actually put God in a box, and that they missed out on something much greater? Is it possible that Jesus had much more to give them, much more to reveal to them?
I can’t answer that question for them; but I must ask it for myself.
Are there some things that I’m asking God for, but I’m telling Him when and how they should be done? Am I defaulting to my past experiences of how God has answered in the past, expecting Him to do it the same way again? Am I expecting God to work in a particular way, and all the while missing what He is doing because it doesn’t conform to my expectation?
Life would be far easier if we had a list of fail-proof formulas to receive what God has for us. But then we would miss out on relationship. God’s benefits – great as they may be – pale in comparison with God himself. Relationship with Him is the greatest benefit.
If we read the Bible primarily to extract principles and “rules for living” we may see great results in many areas – but at the end of the day, we may come to find out that we missed out on the best. Maybe we’ll realize that God had much more for us, and that we would have received it if we had only come to Him openly, letting Him act outside of our expectations.
Let’s not put God in a box. Present your requests to Him, and let Him decide how He wants to answer. Don’t limit your relationship with God to a series of rules or faith formulas. Seek Him first. Relationship is the key to everything else.
* The hem of a Hebrew’s prayer shawl is very important. The prayer shawl worn by Hebrew men is called a tallit. The fringe on the corner of the tallit is called a tzitzit. In Numbers 15 God directs the Hebrews to make fringes on the borders (also called corners or wings) of their garments to remind them of God’s law! During the first century, a tradition associated with the tallit is that the tzitzit of the Messiah had healing powers. The Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings (Mal 4:2). http://heartofwisdom.com/biblicalholidays/2009/10/23/importance-of-our-hebrew-roots/
Dr. Chiqui POlo-Wood | All Rights Reserved 2016