In my particular “tribe” of Christianity, there are good things about the experiential. We really do believe, or want to believe, that we can pray for healing (for example) and healing is possible.
A particular “downside” is we tend to live for the “event.” We live for that powerful moment in a church service, a powerful worship song… something that takes us away emotionally. When we live for that “in the moment” experience, we trade away something more valuable.
In Luke 9, Jesus sends out the Twelve to do what he did. They healed people, delivered others from demons, proclaimed the Kingdom, etc. They came back and gave the report. They had lived “in the moment.” Jesus had commissioned them, they had gone out and experienced that empowerment, and now they were “done” with that “episode.”
I say that because of what happens next.
Jesus gets them away for some rest, but people hear that Jesus is nearby and flock to see him. He teaches them the Kingdom and heals those who need healing and they are plunged into another full day of ministry.
The day gets long, the crowd is hungry, and the disciples implore Jesus to send them home. The people need food.
Jesus says very simply, “You give them something to eat.”
If the disciples had truly thought through their next response, this is what it really would have sounded like: “We just got back from this powerful experience. We healed the sick. We cast out demons. We proclaimed the Kingdom. We did what you asked us to do. How can we possibly feed 5,000 people?”
They had their “experience” yesterday. How could they do something “different” today? They needed another “experience.”
Jesus was trying to get them to see the consistency of Kingdom power, and they were locked into the moment. Jesus wants his disciples to recognize that the Kingdom is consistent.
The quote I gave from Merton in a previous post is relevant. Merton realized the only way to live was to have that awareness that the world was charged with the reality and presence of God.
Jesus couldn’t turn the crowd away because he hadn’t had his prayer time that day. He had to take care of the crowd because that was what was possible in the Kingdom and whether he was”prayed up” or not… the Kingdom would come through.
There is a place of constant wonder. There is a place of consistent powerful living in the Kingdom. It’s not necessarily the thought of “healing” every day, but knowing it is possible… through me… every day.
If healing comes today, it’s because healing was needed. If it is feeding 5,000 tomorrow, the Kingdom will supply.
The call is to walk in a way that when the need arises, you know the Kingdom can show up.