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When Jesus was walking the earth in the days of his incarnation, a religious leader from among the Jews approached him one evening to have a little chat. The man’s name was Nicodemus, and although he apparently was a bit apprehensive about Jesus, he did recognize something about Jesus.

[Nicodemus] came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that you have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” (John 3:2)

This man freely admitted that there was something going on in and through Jesus that was more than what a mere human could do. Evidentially, God was present in a manifest way in Jesus. Although Nicodemus didn’t fully understand who he was talking with in meeting Jesus, he got that part right.

Sometime after Jesus’ ascension, Paul and Barnabas, two of his disciples, were in the city of Lystra. As they were ministering in the city, they came upon a man who had been lame since birth. Paul spoke a word to him and the lame man was made whole and began to walk. Seeing this, the crowd that had gathered recognized something. 

When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have become like men and have come down to us. (Acts 14:11)

The crowd readily confessed that something going on in and through Paul and Barnabas that was more than what mere humans could do. Evidentially, divine power was present in a manifest way. Although the crowd misinterpreted just who Paul and Barnabas were, they rightly understood that something from God had happened.

In writing to one of the churches he planted, Paul spoke to the Corinthians about what should happen in their gatherings. Paul had explained what it was that the Spirit of God wanted to do in and through the followers of Jesus when they gathered in his name. He then wrote about what wouild happen when someone who didn’t know God entered their midst.

When the believing community is living in the Spirit in the way they were designed, by God, to live, Paul writes that “an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.” (1 Corinthians 14:24-25)

Apparently, Paul thinks that if the community of faith is living in the way they were designed to live, then those who come into the experience of that community from outside the fellowship will recognize that divine power is present in a manifest way. It’s not that this experience alone will necessarily lead to faith–there will be the need to communicate the message of the Gospel to the unbelieving one. But Paul suggests that even these unbelieving ones will be confronted with the reality of God’s active presence.

When Nicodemus met up with Jesus he saw that God was present in a manifest way in and through him. When those in Lystra encountered Paul and Barnabas they concluded that God was present in a manifest way in and through them. When an unbelieving person enters the congregation of the Corinthian Christians Paul says that one should experience God’s presence in a manifest way in and through them.

It would seem that the followers of Jesus should so live like Jesus that the reality that “God is with you” –that we are not just doing merely good human stuff–should be clearly seen.

And that is a startling conclusion. I wonder if any would confess to seeing such evidence in my life and the lives of those with whom I do this Christian life.

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