Tuesday Re-mix –
When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” John 5:6
Step 6: We are entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
[I am using these Tuesday Re-mixes for a few weeks to think (again) about addiction to self-reliance and how that addiction is one of the biggest challenges to genuine community which we face in the American church culture.]
So, in our 12-step program to recover from our addiction to self-reliance, step 6 is that we are “entirely ready to have God remove” this character defect. Well, that really is the question, isn’t it? Are we entirely ready to give up our addiction to self-reliance? Are we entirely ready to start opening our lives up to God and to God’s people and to start leaning into community?
When I was in college, I blew my knee out messing around in the gym. It was my first serious injury of my life. I waited a week or so before going to the doctor, because my addiction to self-reliance was already well-developed by then. When I did finally go to the doctor, it was still pretty swollen. He told me that he could not diagnose it with all that fluid on it. He would need to aspirate it in order to check it out. That meant he would need to stick a long needle into my knee joint and draw out the fluid. I grabbed my things and left. Self-reliance was looking like a pretty good option to me at that point.
Several weeks later, the swelling had all but gone and the pain had subsided pretty well too. I decided it was healthy enough to play on it again. I went out on the basketball court and started to play lightly. Within just a few minutes, it buckled sideways (there were no ligaments left to hold it stable). It was blown. Self-reliance was not going to work this time.
I went back to the doctor and let him aspirate it. Then he diagnosed the problem and told me it needed surgery. This would be an even greater problem for my self-reliance. I could not do the surgery myself (that would be ridiculous). I would have to let him put me to sleep and place myself into his hands and into the hands of his people (his surgical team). I really had no viable option but to let go and let him do the surgery. I had to decide to let him heal me.
Isn’t that the decision for us here? Do we really want to be healed from this affliction? Are we prepared to admit that self-reliance simply does not work…that it only further complicates our lives and that we are simply ill-equipped to heal ourselves?
God (our Great Physician) has his terms, just like my surgeon did. Healing comes only on His terms. One of those terms is that we must learn to live in community with His people (the church). That’s the deal. Take it or leave it. It is non-negotiable. Like surgery, it will come with some pain. That is pretty much a guarantee. And it will come with some difficulties…also a guarantee. But it is where we find healing.
Jesus spoke directly to this issue in this passage from Matthew 11:29-30:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
It is true, isn’t it? Given the option of relying on myself or taking on His yoke, it really is easier to take on His yoke. Sometimes we just have to hit rock bottom first to realize it.
I am ready. I want to be healed. You?