Church on Monday: Do You Want To Get Well?
The themes of the sermons at both Voorhees and Mount Laurel this week were sin and freedom. Spoiler alert, Jesus died and was resurrected to set us FREE from our SIN. Appropriate for Holy Week, don’t you think? Here’s the thing though. That statement, in church culture, can become a tag line, an intellectual piece of knowledge or theology. But as I sat listening to Jeff yesterday, and Rick this morning, I am reminded that this is highly personal for me. And for you too.
I grew up in a home that was a mess. Suffice it to say we never had need of a DYFS visit, thankfully, but we were a relationally broken people, going back several generations at least. One of the phrases I remember said in my home of origin was, “do not discuss anything you hear in this house outside of this house.” We were a people that hid our problems, probably better said, our sin. So that is what I learned, and being a very obedient child, that is what I did. I had friends of course, but looking back, I never really was emotionally close to anyone. If I got too close, people might find out that I was less than perfect (coming from the household I did, perfectionism, or control, became one of my deepest sins). Even as I got married, of course my husband observed a lot of this familial brokenness first hand, but I have realized over time that I hid from him emotionally as well.
Jeff said there are four unhealthy ways to deal with sin that he sees most, denial of sin, minimizing sin, trying to control sin ourselves and fully embracing sin, thinking there is no way to change who we are. I have used all four of these techniques over the course of my life time(and since I am a recovering sinner, still struggle with them at times). Rick talked about sin being a cage of our own making. Yep, I have been there too. Sometimes I even revisit my cage.
But here’s the thing. About 25 years ago or so, I was attending a church and was an active participant. And from an intellectual standpoint, I could have told you that Jesus died for my sins. Quite honestly though, I was more like the man in the Gospel of John that couldn’t walk, that Rick referenced. Jesus was asking me if I wanted to get well (aka get out of my prison). And I kept telling him, “No, thank you, I am quite comfortable here.” Jesus is so gracious, he will not do anything for me that I do not give him permission to do. But then, as so often happens, a crisis of gigantic proportions hit my life, and especially because I was so good at hiding, I had no where else to go. And Jesus, who had never left my side BTW, asked again, “Do you want to get well.” Finally, after having been driven to my knees, I said yes, and as Rick said of the Jesus followers, my life has never been the same.
Jesus gently guided me out into the light. He had me expose myself to others, cautiously at first, but more and more as time went by. And as I have faced the ups and downs of life, Jesus has provided people for me to share my life with. Some have just been for a season, others for a lifetime. I have been in the same life group of women for over 10 years now. We have experienced life together, births, deaths, weddings, joys, tragedies and all of the everyday stuff in between, and unlike the me of 25 years ago, these precious women know all my broken places, all of my past and current struggles and joys. Just this morning I was texting with this group about a member’s mom and praying for her. Because I am no longer hiding, I am free in a way that I never thought possible. I have peace that I never thought possible. I find following Christ so refreshing. Jesus does not lie to us, He tells us that this life will have trials. The Jesus following portion of my life has not been trial free, anything but. Jesus promises peace and joy, IN THIS LIFE, and I have that. Not 24/7, as I said, I am a recovering sinner and live in a fallen world. Sin at it’s root is not trusting in God and trying to do things in a way that I think is better (think Adam and Eve). I am still guilty of that at times. But when I turn back toward Jesus (this is what repent means), I find the peace and joy again, even if my circumstances have not changed.
This peace and joy and freedom is the story of Easter. It is the story of Christianity. And the Good News is that it is available to ANYONE who wants to get well, no one is excluded. So my questions for you this Holy Week are, Are you still in your cage? Do you want to get well? Then say yes to Jesus. If you don’t know how to do that, contact me, or someone at Hope and we will walk through it with you. Also, if you have already said yes to Jesus, then you have a story to tell. Who are you going to tell it to? It really is very good news.