I have this recording that I made waaaaay back when I was 11. I had one of those old 70’s cassette recorders, and it was important for me to leave a “witnessing tape” so that if I died my family and friends would listen to it and all come to Jesus. Anyway, there’s this point during the first few minutes when I say, “I lived in sin until I was 11.” That is both hilarious and, in a way, so sad to me now. Because man, was I wrong!! There were 30 years of addiction and pain that lay ahead. My intentions were good, but I had the perspective of an 11 old year old child. Not necessarily good or bad, just limited by my own personal context at the time. I couldn’t see past 11.
When we as men and women chose the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil over Life and intimacy with our creator, sin invaded like cancer. It warped the very fabric of creation, bringing death and separation from God, and forever altered our perspective about God and ourselves. We fell for the lie that we could be like God without God. And from that time until the present mankind has set up governments, programs, institutions, religions, and whatever else you can think of to fashion himself into the being he has only a distorted notion of that he should be. The way seems good, but the end brings only more death. Enter Jesus. (I have to be honest, when I wrote that I thought of “Enter Sandman” by Metallica.)
Through the redemptive work of Jesus: his life, death, and resurrection; we have been reconciled to God. In the person of Jesus, God has provided healing for our brokenness. Salvation is so much more than our proverbial bible-belt prayer, “Lord, I confess I’m a sinner. Please save me now.” It is holistic in its “efficaciousness,” affecting every facet of our being. Through intimacy with Jesus we have been invited to come and take part in the Life and Love of God. In Jesus, we become a “new creation,” all things become new. The Spirit of God actually indwells us and begins to change us, molding us into the image of Jesus. And as we grow in the Lord, our perspective which sin had left warped and distorted begins to give way to a new one. Or at least it should.
Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda…One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, ‘Would you like to get well? (John 5: 5,6 NLT)
I used to read this passage and think to myself that it was strange that the Lord would ask the paralyzed man if he wanted to be well. After all, who wouldn’t want to be healed of an infirmity that had rendered them an invalid? What person in their right mind would want to remain in a paralyzed condition? The truth is that sometimes, as crazy as it may seem, even after we come to Jesus we can actually remain at ease with our “disease.” Sadly, many of us are guilty of not allowing Jesus complete access to the pain and hurts we have encountered in life. When this happens, our thoughts and behavior can be dictated by the flesh, and we often feel justified in using our infirmity to manipulate others. I wonder if perhaps that is why Jesus asked the man lying beside the pool of Bethesda that day if he wanted to be healed. Maybe the man had actually begun to see his illness as a way to manipulate others into giving him money. Have you ever met someone who has actually begun to “romance” their pain and hurt? It’s crazy, but sometimes, we can prefer the familiarity of our suffering over the prospect of being made whole.
Maybe part of the reason we as believers are experiencing such angst and frustration in this “kairos moment” in history is due to the fact that we need to allow God to change our perspective from the natural to the spiritual. Perhaps the truth is that while by this time we should be mature sons and daughters of God, we have been held back by desires and thoughts that originate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil- our old, carnal thought patterns and perspectives. Could it be that we, all of us, have been largely deceived by that which seems good, but is in reality a fruit from that old tree? We can’t and shouldn’t be freaked out by the world’s reactions to current events, but our perspectives as lovers of Jesus are to be shaped by his Spirit within us. And I guess ultimately, it is by the Spirit that each of us can discern our own motivation.
When I was a boy, I couldn’t see past 11. I had all kind of thoughts, but my perspective was that of a child. May I ask some questions without coming across as insensitive? Are we as Christians honestly coming before the Lord, laying down our hurt, our pain, and everything we think we know? Are we willing to allow the Spirit to expand our perspective beyond the natural? Are we willing to see beyond our own ethnicity and personal context? It may be impossible with man, but not with God. Let’s grow up in him together!!