The Christian message is all good news, with no hint at any stage of conversion from Satan to God, or salvation from death to eternal life, or living the Christian life, that “we might not make it if we don’t do our part.” That’s because all three – heart, hope and healing – are God’s doing.
We know, for instance, that the process of human conversion from evil to good begins with the HEART. We get that in Acts 10, with the heart of Cornelius. It’s his good heart that kickstarts his conversion and the conversion of his entire household, as the first Gentiles to grasp the Christian message.
But how did a Roman soldier have such a good heart in the first place? How, as a cog in the mighty Roman machinery of war and a trained killer, did he come to be “devout and God-fearing, giving generously to those in need and praying to God regularly”? And how, as a deadly and despised enemy of the Jews, did he come to be “respected by all the Jewish people”? And how did he respond so readily to a Jew preaching to him from the Jewish Scriptures?
Imagine the risk to his reputation for so brazenly fraternizing with the enemy. But somehow this impossible sounding situation happened. Why? Because it’s in the heart of a person that God’s purpose begins. And God “knows a good heart” (Acts 15:8) in which his purpose can begin and grow.
But where did this good heart of Cornelius come from? There’s a clue in the story of Lydia, the first Gentile to respond to the gospel message in Europe. And the reason she responded so well was because “The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message,” Acts 16:14.
A good responsive heart, therefore, was not of Cornelius’ making or Lydia’s. It was God’s. He did it. And why did he do it? He did it to open their hearts to the next of the three words, HOPE. Everything from the creation of humans, the entire story of the Old Testament, Jesus’ death and resurrection, and all those wonderful prophecies and promises in Scripture about the world to come and how God is creating it in humans now through Jesus living his life in us – it’s all designed to give us poor suffering humans hope. Hope saves, as Paul wrote in Romans 8:24, because it’s that wonderful life in the future that keeps us going in this mess now (Romans 8:20-21).
And who is the source of that hope? Well, that’s God too. It’s the Holy Spirit’s doing, as he throws open the windows to who we really are. We are the “children of God,” Romans 8:16, with the same future awaiting us that the resurrected Jesus is living in right now, verse 17.
So God opens hearts to the Christian message to give us hope. But it’s not just hope for the future, it’s also what he’s up to with us now.
And that’s HEALING, as Jesus gets to work in us through the Holy Spirit to “bless us by turning each of us from our wicked ways,” Acts 3:26, and “transform us into his likeness,” 2 Corinthians 3:18. It’s where his job as our present High Priest comes In. He knows all the wrong attitudes we’ve picked up from the world, so he becomes our physician, our doctor on hand to help us “escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” and take on his nature instead, 2 Peter 1:3-4.
Heart, hope and healing – and all God’s doing too, just as Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:3, that God “has given us everything we need for life and godliness,” so, Peter adds in verses 5-11, grab the opportunity to live what he’s given us.