Christianity and Miracles

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Sanctification is not my idea of what I want God to do for me –
 sanctification is God’s idea of what He wants to do for me.

Oswald Chambers (James Riemann, Ed.)


Why are so many people resistant to the idea of miracles?

At a recent dinner conversation, one lady expressed her delight at a sermon she had heard about the biblical account of Jesus feeding the multitudes. She was relieved to hear that it wasn’t really a miracle. The priest said that it was true the disciples had only a few “loaves and fishes” but that didn’t mean others hadn’t brought food.

It made more sense to her, and was apparently reassuring to her, to think of it as a giant ‘pot luck’ instead of a miracle.

Why would miracles scare us or put us off?

We take delight in “miraculous” medical cures, miracles of technology and even the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey “Miracle on Ice“. But we seem hesitant to consider the idea of a real miracle, something we can’t explain.

F. A. Hayek, in The Road to Serfdom talks of a shift in the western approach to many issues which occurred in the nineteenth century. Before that, philosophy ruled in government and society. It was understood that some things are beyond us and therefore must be accepted.

With the rise of technology, the engineering viewpoint took over. Everything had to be analyzed and reduced to its parts. There are no unsolvable problems, just solutions we didn’t yet understand.

But we all understand that there are things beyond our comprehension. Some would argue that we will eventually explain everything that happens at all levels of the universe. They argue our science is immature.

But many of us doubt that. We have a hunch that “There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your books.”

But what advantage could there be in refusing to accept miracles. Could a world without miracles be safer, easier for us to control?

A long dead teacher can ask nothing of us. Socrates, Aquinas and Confucius are left in the past. We can admire their ideas and try to follow them, but they can ask nothing of us. We can also feel free to reinterpret their teachings to fit our “times”, or rather, our whims.

But what if the person whose teachings we claim to follow still lives? What then?

This is the dilemma posed by Jesus of Nazareth. Many people are comfortable with him as a non-miraculous but wise teacher. We can follow his teachings, or not, and there is no reason to think he can affect us any more than Socrates.

But what if he is, indeed, the risen Son of God? What if he is not a figure from the remote past but alive and aware of our every thought, word and deed? Then He is not so easy to ignore.

A living Jesus has opinions about how we live. He may or may not tell us, and we may or may not listen, but He has his opinions of us and our actions.

He is in charge of our lives. We aren’t.  We can’t assume we know all there is to know about what happens in our lives. Maybe those “coincidences” we encounter from time to time really aren’t accidents. Maybe He is arranging events and people in our lives for His purposes.

To put it simply, maybe we aren’t in control. Maybe we don’t know as much as we think we do.

The thought that He is alive adds uncertainty and obligation to our lives. If, indeed, we were created by the Holy Trinity to know and love Him/them, they are waiting for us. We can’t just study Jesus as a long dead teacher. His “bible” is a guide book not just of how to live, but, more importantly, how to learn to walk and talk with Him.

Do we really want to hide in the safety of long-dead Jesus who can ask nothing of us and never “interfere” in our lives? Apparently many people do.

But for those willing to accept the idea that “He Is Risen!” it is, perhaps, time to understand what that means and seek him out. He lives and wants us to share everything with him.

Are we ready for that?

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