We live in a time of tremendous progress and advancement. While there is much we do not know or understand about our world, we have learned a great deal. Such learning has had a wide range of effects on us. We are able to use the world for our benefit more responsibly and efficiently. Through both invention and innovation, we are able to make our lives more comfortable and convenient. Advancement in medicine has made disease treatable and in some instances even curable.
The progress of our age has also shaped the way we view God. For example, western societies which existed pre-Age of Enlightenment were especially aware of God. The preservation of life was strongly associated with the blessings of God. From weather patterns and harvests to surviving winters and diseases, people were highly aware of their dependence on God. Post-Age of Enlightenment, such awareness of the nearness of God seemed to change.
Rather than understanding God as the sustainer of life and mysterious wonder worker, God could now be explained through scientific inquiry. Isaac Newton’s discoveries in physics could explain how the universe functions. God could be discovered and explained through the scientific method and technical-analytic observation. Our society has its roots in the Age of Enlightenment and continues to feel the impact of this age today.
Post-Enlightenment & a Distant God
As believers in God, we are quick to acknowledge His power and rule in the world today. Yet, we often look within the world and ourselves to explain our existence. For example, while God promised Noah that He would always grant the earth seedtime and harvest, we do not typically feel dependent on God for seedtime and harvest (Gen. 8:22). Instead, we rely on the Farmer’s Almanac, weather forecasts, climatologists, grocery stores, and genetically modified crops. If there is a drought in the state, we can get crops from another state or country.
Also, consider issues of health. When we are sick, we will pray to God for healing. But, how does God heal? He heals through doctors, medicines, MRI scans, chemotherapy, and open-heart surgeries. Modern medicine shapes our view of how God heals. God certainly works through the medical profession, but is God limited to such a professional group?
Yes, modern scientific advancement has been a wonderful blessing to us. We must be grateful to God for the knowledge of the universe He has revealed to us (Exod. 35:30-36:1). However, such advancement has a subtle, but real impact on our view of God.
Our world today seems to view God at a greater distance from man than people of past generations viewed Him. If we have a question, our first inclination to find an answer is to “Google it” or try to find solutions through “crowd-sourcing.” In the event we cannot find solutions to our problems in scientists or doctors, then, we will pray. Seeking God’s intervention in our lives seems to be the option of last and least resort.
God the Wonder Worker
We must remember that God is not limited to modern technology to work wonders in our lives. As a matter of fact, God and His abilities are not defined or limited by modern technology. God has always proven He can do the unthinkable, the inconceivable, and the impossible.
Over and over in the Bible, writers praise God for His wondrous works…like parting the Red Sea, feeding Israel with manna, and delivering Israel from oppressive nations. The term “wonder” means an impossibility. Constantly throughout the Bible, God does the impossible.
For example, several times God caused the barren to conceive. One such woman was the wife of Manoah. She conceived and gave birth to a son: Samson. Samson grew to deliver Israel from the godless Philistines. When Manoah asked the angel what the name of the Lord was, he was told, “…Wherefore askest thou after my name, seeing it is wonderful?” (Judges 3:18). Manoah praised God who had done “wondrously” (Judges 13:19). As far as Manoah was concerned, God did the impossible.
Certainly, the clearest demonstration of God’s ability to do the impossible was raising Jesus from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus made God’s power undeniable. God defeated death by raising Jesus from the dead. After explaining the consequences of the resurrection of Jesus, Paul taunted death: “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:54-57).
Also, God being able to do the impossible in the natural world serves as proof for His ability to work His power in our lives. God’s ability to raise Jesus from the dead proves He can give us new life. God has the ability to transform us as people.
Regarding God’s power to transform and give new life, Paul wrote, “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us…Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence” (2 Cor. 4:6-7, 13-14).
The same wonder worker who spoke the universe into existence and raised Jesus from the dead can work wonders for us. However, the only way we can experience this wonder-working power is by faith. Rather than trusting a post-Enlightenment construction of a distant God, we must simply learn to trust God.
Our God is not made with hands or confined to the conceptions of human thought. He is near us (Phil. 4:5). He is involved in our lives and in our world more than we will ever know. He can use what is weak to accomplish something powerful. He can give life to the dead and call into existence things which do not exist (Rom. 4:17). He can do far more abundantly than anything we can ask or think (Eph. 3:20). Our God can do the impossible. Do you believe this?