Reflections On An Illness

I have just gotten over an attack of diverticulitis.  I won’t go into the details but it’s not pleasant.  Indeed, it’s quite unpleasant.  Even after being on antibiotics for 10 days my energy level was still pretty low and I couldn’t work a full day for almost two weeks.

Now I’m sharing this with you because I want to talk about another illness that affects me–and you too, whoever you are.  That illness is sin.  Yes, nasty old sin, that condition that has been handed down over the generations like some sort of genetic deposit.  I have blue eyes.  My father had blue eyes.  My grandfather had blue eyes.  I’m a sinner, my father was a sinner, my grandfather was a sinner.

Now it’s not fashionable to talk about sin these days.  People don’t like being told that there’s something inherently wrong with them.  They want words of encouragement.  They want to be told how very special they are, how God wants them to be all they can be and so He is busy up in heaven making all good things just for them.  Everybody wants to have the dessert without having to eat the Brussels sprouts.  But there’s no getting around it and no avoiding it–all of us who are human are sinners who cannot and will not stop sinning.  I can have what appear to be brown eyes by wearing colored contacts, but my eyes will still be blue.  In the same way, I can appear to the world like the quintessential “good person” but I’m still going to be a poor miserable sinner, unwelcome in the presence of God, no matter what the guy next door might think.

I’m not at all sure I would have gotten over the diverticulitis had I not gone to the doctor and received the correct treatment.  Had I just tried to ignore it, I could very well have died.  To defeat the genetic disease called sin I must seek the proper treatment too.  That means I must meet Jesus Christ at the Cross on Calvary.  I must receive the gift of faith through the work of the Holy Spirit and when I receive that divine medicine, then and only then can my deadly sin be defeated and then and only then can I look forward to eternal life in the presence of God.

Diseases can do all sorts of bad things to our bodies.  But only sin can truly condemn us to eternal death.  And there’s a cure for that–Jesus Christ, crucified and risen for me and for you.

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Letting The Lion Out

In my reading this past week I came across a rather long quotation from the 19th century English preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  I won’t give it to you in its entirety, but I think it’s worth pondering, especially for those of us who are called to preach the Word in God’s Church.

Spurgeon noted that even in the 1880’s people were writing books and articles defending the Gospel against those who would bring it into disrepute.  He allowed as how that was probably a good and needed thing, but he also noted that when the Gospel needed defending it was because the Gospel was not being preached as it should.

Then he drew this analogy–it would be as if you had a lion in a cage and you were worried about the fate of the lion against its enemies so you were calling in soldiers to defend the lion.  Spurgeon noted that it was likely that the best way to defend the lion was to allow it to defend itself.  In other words, let the lion out of its cage.  And so he said the best way to defend the Gospel is to let the lion out.

In far too many churches the lion is kept in a cage with a sign above it that says “Assumed”.  Too many preachers believe that the people in front of them know and believe the Gospel so they spend their time in the pulpit talking about things like how to have a good marriage, or how to avoid sin, or how to raise faithful children.  They preach about everything except Jesus Christ crucified and risen for you.  They ignore the fact that St. Paul, after his relative failure in Athens where he proclaimed Christ in a rather philosophical way, came to Corinth determined, he says, to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

No one should ever assume that people know the Gospel and believe it, nor should we assume that they don’t long to hear it proclaimed every time someone is in the pulpit.

Just let the lion out–He’ll take care of Himself.