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Reaching

Living healed

When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be healed?"

—John 5:6


It's so hard for me to watch people answer "no" to Jesus' question. I wrote about it in my own life, a couple of years ago:
The question isn't as odd as I might think. It's not about "counting the cost" in the traditional sense; it's about changing my identity. I think I want to be well, but I've learned to identify with my sickness, made some sort of peace with it, made it part of who I am. Giving up that sickness truly is a sacrifce. In fact, it's the only one I can make at all—my brokenness is all I have to give. I must be willing to become someone new, to walk in that truth, to receive a new identity. I can't rest in who I thought I was, in who I used to be, in my own self-centered way of navigating a broken life. Do I really want to get well?
Now, even though I understand it, I feel frustration and anger inside when I see others refusing His healing so they can hold onto their brokenness, their control. My feelings are amplified when those people are professing Christians, and it goes to a whole other level when they go on to blame Him for their lack of healing.

It's so ugly and wrong. He's not to blame for your sin. He even paid the penalty for it. When you deny that, you're a liar.

Perhaps some of it is growth in my life. I love Jesus. That's different than just having "faith" and "values" that I can plug and unplug when it suits me, like some kind of small appliance I occasionally use in my kitchen. He's real. He's a person. So when people, especially Christians, talk shit about Him, falsely, I'm pissed. And when people, especially Christians, take His grace and spit on it, I'm pissed.

But my own brokenness continue to be the only thing I have to give. It's not my place to try to bring anyone else's—the Pharisees and Sadducees specialized in confessing other people's sins. Do I want to be healed of that? Am I willing to let Him expand my heart beyond frustration and anger, to feel the pain of compassion?

In the meantime, if Jesus is real to you, if you love Him, if He's given healing to your soul and you're being a jerk about it, knock it off. Seriously. That may not be all warm and fuzzy and affirming, but I can't think of a more loving encouragement I can give. I need to hear it, too.

Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, "See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you."

—John 5:14

Comments

"Am I willing to let Him expand my heart beyond frustration and anger, to feel the pain of compassion?"

That's the real question in all of that, it seems to me. Because once you feel that compassion for someone else, it moves you beyond anger into a sorrow for their very soul, and that's a pain that's as real as if it were your own heart that needed the healing. At least it is for me. There's a Scott Krippayne song that says the concept - what breaks God's heart, breaks mine too.... and when He sees a child who needs healing, and He WANTS to heal them so badly.... I have to imagine that causes Him more grief than any emotion we are capable of feeling.

I understand the anger, but what was Christ's reaction to those who wouldn't receive? Didn't He ultimately die for them, too? Some of those who didn't receive while He was alive.... if He had stopped at anger....

I don't have all the answers. I don't have any answers, as a matter of fact. All I have is Christ, who accepts me as I am, even when I'm too stubborn to rejoice in it because of my own present suffering, which is as nothing compared to the glory to be revealed.... this is just my two cents..... no offense meant....
I don't know if compassion removes the anger of seeing God maligned. There's forgiveness, absolutely! It's forgiveness that's been purchased, however. The cost was the cross. God's wrath wasn't simply commuted—His Son was executed.

Jesus didn't stop at anger. But the Father did express His righteous anger fully, on Him. Remembering that is important, because I know He is the only judge and that every injustice will be paid.

Christ's reaction to those who wouldn't receive isn't finished. The door is still open; it hasn't closed a crack. As long as people can say yes to Him, I hope they do. But if that man had said no, then blamed Jesus, I'd count him a fool, one who will be judged for his reaction to and refusal of grace if he doesn't repent.
First of all, I completely agree that if the man said no, and then blamed Jesus, he's a fool....

I admit that you now have me extremely curious about the whole concept of compassion vs. anger.... and I guess what I'm wondering is who the righteous anger belongs to - us, or God? James 1:19-20 says: "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." And maybe this isn't the same kind of anger. So my point may be headed in the wrong direction...

You said it yourself, though. "He is the only judge".... it isn't up to us to defend God's character - someone can malign God, and people in our world do it all the time. That's God's to answer, it seems to me. In the end, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess.

I guess I'm just thinking of the Jesus who crawled on that cross, after being beaten to the point of death.... that Jesus died for me, and if I'd been the only soul on this planet, He would have done it anyway. And knowing that He loves ME that much, sinner though I undoubtedly am, it makes it hard for me to hold on to anger for someone who hasn't received that..... it makes me sad for them - it makes my heart break... because to not know such love - to not know such healing as God can provide if we will but let Him.... oh, how awful a torment that must be.
So let's cut to it:

If someone says things that are awful and/or untrue about someone you love, how do you feel?

Do you feel differently if someone does that about Jesus (especially if they say they love Him)?

If so, what's the difference?
(Sorry for the delay - had some new clients just walk in the door - in my present financial state, I can't turn them away!)

Well, that's a hard question to answer in generalities. Because for me, it would depend on what was said, why it was said, and the emotional stability or intelligence of the person saying it.

But I'll take a stab at it - if the thing said about the person I loved was awful, but true, then I'd be annoyed, perhaps, at it being said, but not really angry, unless it was done out of meanness or spite. If it was untrue, then of course I'd feel anger, which might or might not be tempered by the audience and/or the potential influence of the person speaking.

When it comes to God - well, no one could truthfully say anything awful about God, could they? So I understand the anger at that - but where is the person coming from who said it - is it willful disobedience? Are they doing the one thing we cannot do, blaspheme against the Spirit? (Matt. 12:31)

See, it comes down to me not having enough information to say how I'd really feel. Perhaps, knowing more, I'd be just as irate as you are. Can you give me the gist of it without revealing anything you shouldn't? Then perhaps I could respond more intelligently to where my anger level would be in this specific case.
Here's my two cents on all this:

I hear what you're saying and in many ways I agree. I am here to present a twist on all of this :D I'm twisty.

If someone were to start bashing a friend that I loved, it would hurt me and I would try to console my friend. For me to get angry at the offender is pointless. And to take up the offense of another in this manner isn't a great choice.

If someone were to say slanderous things about that same friend, I may stick up for my friend to the slanderer. Defend my buddy (I was going to say 'defend my friend', but rhyming can be tricky when you're trying to be serious :D). Because maybe my buddy is feeling pretty rotten right then and not up to it. Or maybe they're so emotionally charged that they can't react reasonably.

If someone were to bash Christ I would still have that same feeling of sorrow, but it would be for that person because they are decieved or lost. At the least, they'd be in error :)

But do I need to defend God? That's just a question. I can see defending what He teaches. Absolutely. But defending Him? I can't imagine that if it weren't for me and my mad reasoning skills, He'd be up a creek. :)

Anyway - all I really am meaning to say is that anger is tricky. And rarely have I seen a true example of righteous anger. Maybe I never have. Because if part of that anger is because of what they're saying about how WE believe, then the best outcome we can hope for is that it drives us to our knees in repentance.

I don't have time to re-read...kids need me! HOpe at least some of it translates from my head to the screen :)

processing

That's like when I was in the seventh grade, one of my friends started badmouthing Peggy, and I got PISSED. It didn't matter that *I* couldn't stand Peggy--no one else better talk trash about my sister!

That's my mom's reaction to people who diss Jesus. She gets mad... to the point where she can't have a rational conversation with the person trashing Jesus.

As for myself, using the analogy of Peggy again--I get mad when people misunderstand her, and assume things about her based on their worldly perceptions, but not so mad that I can't correct them, or recognize when there's no point in correcting them. I don't think that corresponds to how I react when people misunderstand Jesus. When unbelievers say untrue things about Him, I figure how would they know the difference? I get aggravated with believers, though, because I feel like they should know better, they should trust better. If they can't trust him enough to stop doubting his every motive and every word, they should quit calling themselves Christians.
Seriously, I was just thinking about this this afternoon. I realized that I'd given my pain and habits a home and I didn't want to let them go. I realized that I would have to actively keep kicking them out and accepting Christ's healing...I was amazed at how much it hurts to let go of things that only end in death...I need to lean even harder into Christ and His promises...It seriously is a sacrifice--Please God, let me never ever blame Christ for healing that I am unwilling to accept.

Thank you for this today!
Truly, kerry :)
You're very welcome...it's stuff that I just had to start getting out of my system yesterday.

As a more genaral response.

I loved the post. Especially that last bit:

In the meantime, if Jesus is real to you, if you love Him, if He's given healing to your soul and you're being a jerk about it, knock it off. Seriously. That may not be all warm and fuzzy and affirming, but I can't think of a more loving encouragement I can give. I need to hear it, too.

Even if there are pieces of it that I'm not completely behind, I can tell it's from your heart and your heart is a pretty amazing thing to peek into :)
This is something that I've been trying to explain to friend (yes, the one I was writing about when I made the post on purity). He believes God is real, but doesn't understand the need to have faith in him. He's hung up on works and "what we do should matter". I've tried explaining we can't do anything to save ourselves, we have to believe in God and what Jesus did on the cross.

Believe is so hard to explain to a person who's want's a logic and hard facts. *sigh*

Any suggestions?
It's really hard. Our own goodness will get in the way of having a relationship with God faster than anything else. Conversion is the Holy Spirit's work, so keep praying. And though it's hard, understand that, if that's where he's coming from, right now he really doesn't believe in God, just his own idea of one.
This is sooooo George MacDonald.

I know I only think in terms of books. Story of my life. :o]
Now, even though I understand it, I feel frustration and anger inside when I see others refusing His healing so they can hold onto their brokenness, their control. My feelings are amplified when those people are professing Christians, and it goes to a whole other level when they go on to blame Him for their lack of healing. Etc.

I find myself similarly frustrated. I feel judgmental, I can't sympathize, etc. I think of Romans 14:4 and try to remind myself that I've done it too and I'm sure I will again. I should pray about it.

Anyway, I understand :)
Thank you. :)