“Sometimes miracles are just good people with kind hearts.” So read a meme I saw on social media last week that piqued my interest – not because it is heartwarming (which it was intended to be), but because it contains so much baloney. (Sorry for using such a heavy theological term…I couldn’t help myself.)
We want to believe this is true, don’t we? And we want to believe it for a couple of reasons. First, we want to believe it because we want to believe in the inherent goodness of people; and second, we want to believe it because we would like some sort of logical explanation for the inexplicable.
In an empirical world, we want to be able to explain everything that happens. But in all humility, even the smartest physicians and scientists in the world cannot explain every little thing that occurs. While some are reluctant to use the term ‘miracle’, others will use it, whether defined as something that can’t be explained, or as a supernatural act of the sovereign God.
Without a doubt, each of us has encountered people whom we see to be good, having kind hearts. They certainly do good toward us, and we are the recipients of their kindness. There’s nothing wrong with that.
But when we begin to believe that our goodness and kindness is inherent, or that it is efficacious (that is, effective in earning our salvation), we tread on thin ice.
Let’s face it, when we don’t believe in the inherent goodness of humanity, we’re kind of seen as killjoys, aren’t we? Yet, a cursory glance at the news will tell you that if humanity is inherently good, there’s an awful lot of inhumanity out there. What’s more, the Bible is pretty clear: “No one is righteous – not even one…. No one does good, not a single one” (Romans 3.10-12, NLT). And this wasn’t an invention of the apostle Paul, who wrote Romans; he was quoting the Psalms. What’s more, the prophet Jeremiah said, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17.9, NLT).
That seems awfully bleak. The bad news is that it is awfully bleak when we live outside of God’s grace. But within God’s grace, there is good news, for in Jesus Christ he redeems our deceitful hearts, and imputes his righteousness on us by the cross, making it possible for us to do good, all for his glory. And some of that good we do will appear as a miracle to another person. Some will call it a coincidence, but we all know that under the care of a sovereign God, there’s no such thing as a coincidence!
So be encouraged: behind the baloney there is rock-solid theological truth that won’t let you down! We can’t trust in our own righteousness or rely on our own hearts. But we can trust in Jesus’ righteousness and rely on his pure heart. As we enter holy week, keep in mind what he has done for us.