There is a meme in the church. If we worship freely and with power, and if we do signs and wonders: people will come and be saved. Or, among others, if we feed the poor and work for justice, people will come and be saved.
Both are wrong. People will come — but salvation is not their presence in the meeting. For their hearts may be hardened.
47When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by. 49But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; 50for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” 51Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
53When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. 54When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, 55and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
I’m sure people praised the almighty. Jesus was showing his power and people were being healed. The pagans (Gennesaret was a neighbour to Galilee) knew a healer was among them and began to bring their ill to be healed.
But that was not salvation.
The disciples had not only seen people fed miraculously but Jesus walking on the water: but they did not comprehend this. Their hearts were still stone. The signs Jesus did — did not keep him from suffering.
Instead he chose to remain in the path set before him, knowing the cost.
5 The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward.
6 I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.
7 The Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
Chasing signs and wonders, like chasing the most exquisite worship, or seeking a deeper form of spiritual power, is a folly. Our salvation resides in Christ and in Christ alone. It is from that relationship and the following natural wish to please Christ, who loved us to the point of dying for us, that we obey him and his commands.
And many sit in church for the entertainment, the catharsis, with their hearts hardened. Do not follow them — instead pray that their heart softens. For the other alternatives is that circumstances shatter it — and they come to God after being broken — or they remain stony, all the way to perdition.