Friday, February 19, 2016

From the Dead: Tabitha

People generally have a hard time believing in miracles. A miracle is an event that simply can't be explained by natural or scientific laws. Miracles breaks the laws. Miracles spit in the face of laws.  

But many people feel shattered by believing in miracles. It's too illogical and dumb. Thomas Jefferson had to slice and dice his bible in order to arrive at a faith he was comfortable with. And likewise now, some of us just toss out the pieces we can't muster up the faith to believe. Which is rough...when faith is really all that commends one to God: 

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. - Hebrews 11:6

Don't let this be your Bible
Many of us want to rest on moral goodness. We like the old "I've tried to be a good person...I've loved people...never killed anyone" argument. Which is good! Thank God you didn't commit crimes... But, in all seriousness, God does ask for moral goodness in the Bible. Yet, it always falls short. My moral goodness is always mixed in with moral badness, and then I'm somewhere creating my own view of righteousness. One that is based on a series of weights and measures. Something that is very subjective. But, God has been very objective regarding the power of faith: 
  • For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "But the righteous man shall live by faith." - Romans 1: 17
  • Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for "the righteous man shall live by faith" - Galatians 3:11
  • But my righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him. - Hebrews 10:38 
I could find more scriptures that drive the point home. Faith > Moral Goodness. 

But does that mean we have to believe in the miracles? I see how you might think it's too much for Jesus to feed thousands of people with a sack lunch. I see how you might think it's too much for Jesus to walk on water. To heal the sick. To raise the dead.

However...the whole basis of Christianity is that a guy died a criminal's death for our sins, was dead for three days, rose from the dead, talked to His friends and then ascended in a cloud. A CLOUD!

...if you can believe that happened, you should technically be able to believe anything! But we believe that and almost nothing else. 

You know what though? If you believe that, it's enough. It really is. It's enough for you to be counted with the righteous. But it's not enough for you to experience the full power of Christ in your life. Which leads me to the raising of Tabitha. 

Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did. And it happened at that time that she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, “Do not delay in coming to us.” So Peter arose and went with them. When he arrived, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them. But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up; and calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. It became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.
Acts 9:36-42

Tabitha or...Rapunzel?
There are a lot of things at play in these verses. I could talk about how great a disciple Tabitha was. She appeared to be a servant to the widows. Widows are your most vulnerable, dependent, and helpless members of society...and Tabitha was their go-to. But that's not what this is about. It's about what people did when she died. 

They washed her body and laid her in an upper room. And then called Peter. 

They believed in something! They believed the gospel, yes, but they also believed in the power that Jesus left behind for His people! And, I'm guilty of not believing in the power that remains. Sometimes I act like all the power ascended in the cloud, and like I'm a powerless person waiting on the return of my savior. I AM waiting for His return. But He hasn't left me powerless for the wait. 

The people who washed Tabitha's body knew this. 

And Peter knew it too. I can't even imagine what it was like to be him in that moment. He'd never done this before. But I believe that he believed in the power that Christ had left in the earth. And so he knelt down by her bed, and he prayed to the God of power and then he turned to her, and (I believe) said with power and conviction: "Tabitha, arise."

Oh to be a fly on the wall in that room. I bet Peter's gaze was like steel! I bet it was so hardcore. He wasn't powerless. He believed in the miracles that spiral out like a ripple effect from the miracle resurrection of Christ. That one event is still making waves. It still has power. We're not in a waiting room. Peter wasn't in a waiting room. 

He had power. We have power. Now, I'm not saying to go strolling through cemeteries testing theories...but Peter walked in that room and did something he had never done before! We have no idea what new and amazing thing we're capable of. 

Might be a miracle. 

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