10/8/15 Sam about 45
Is the Cubs making the playoffs really a miracle? Much as we might think so, it’s nothing compared to the miracles of the Bible! Jesus walking on the water? – now that is a miracle. And our view of the miracles of the Bible has a big impact on how we read it. On my way into the grocery store today I reached out to Sam, about 45, just as he was leaving with his groceries. Despite the possibility of his frozen items melting, we had a long talk. He is Catholic, and views the various accounts of miracles in the Bible simply as moral stories that convey truth but didn’t necessarily happen. Why? Well, because they are impossible! But isn’t that what a miracle is, by definition? I asked Sam if he believes in God. “Of course” he said. “Well, don’t you think that God could perform miracles?” He honestly had never thought of that. He had been so conditioned by the secular, science-based mindset of our culture that he had ruled out the possibility of miracles before even beginning to consider how to explain the stories of the Bible. Does it matter if we don’t take literally the miracles of the Bible? When it came to the greatest miracle of all – Jesus’ resurrection – Sam said “Well I don’t think it matters if it really happened, it’s still a great story and sets a great example of humility for us to follow.” Sam’s understanding of Christianity was based on doing good works to earn his place in heaven, and he viewed the death of Jesus as the ultimate example – true or not – of the kind of humility one must have in order to do so. But what if it literally is true? What does that mean for us? Wouldn’t it be more than just setting an example? Aren’t their better, more productive and practically helpful ways to give one’s life in service for others? What if Jesus really did die in place of the punishment we deserve? What if he really did suffer, die, and conquer death the way the Bible describes? What does that say about the seriousness of our sin? What does that say about the depth of God’s love, both His love for justice and His love for us? Sam didn’t care that his groceries might be melting – he was amazed at how different the Bible looks when we take seriously its miracles.