Dr. Doug Posey
This weekend, the sermon will focus on the final letter to the seven churches of Asia Minor, found in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. The church to which Jesus wrote the final letter is Laodicea. You’ve probably heard of it—the “lukewarm church.” Jesus graphically describes spitting them out of His mouth. They were neither hot nor cold. They were stuck on the fence. In effect, they suffered from spiritual paralysis and likely made excuses rather than doing something about it.
Have you ever experienced having the doorbell and the phone ring at the same time? Did you go through a moment of paralysis, not knowing which way to go? That event could serve as a snapshot of what happens when we are trying to live with one foot in the world’s way of doing things and the other in God's Kingdom. When we're presented with the tough choices in life, there is paralysis, or worse. But, with both feet on God’s side, we can remain effective, even when life throws us a tough choice—like forgiving someone who has wronged us.
In counseling, I sometimes hear people say, "I can't forgive (him/her).” In his book, Forgive & Forget, Lewis Smedes writes about an incident where his 140 pound son with a liver ailment was brutally beaten by a 250 pound police officer. The author had a tough time, but finally had to seek release from the paralysis of unforgiveness. It was a process that began by repeating aloud, "Officer Milando, in the name of God I hereby forgive you. Absolvo te—go in peace." He said it at least six times. It was a beginning. The key is that it was a conscious choice. If it were impossible, God would not have commanded us to do it. You can forgive, eventually—with God's help.
There are actually people who are more comfortable in their paralysis than they are with the prospect of being healed. In John 5:1-9, Jesus asks a paralytic—a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years—if he wanted to get well. The man replied with what I like to call the “motor-boat response”—but-but-but-but… He had some great excuses as to why he was still crippled, but that wasn't the question. Jesus said, “Do you wish to get well?” He wasn’t asking for an analysis of his paralysis. Why not just say, “YES!” Why would someone make excuses for their condition rather than jumping at the chance to be healed?
Well, actually it happens daily and probably has to do with an aversion to two things: work and responsibility. It takes work to get up and walk, especially when lying around has become a comfortable lifestyle. It is also easier to blame others for our condition than to take some responsibility and get moving. The paralytic immediately blamed others for either not helping him or getting in his way. Let's stop blaming our parents, our society, our genes, and a host of other culprits and—by our actions—say, “YES." to Jesus' question today, “Do you wish to get well?”
Do you really want to see that neighbor come to Christ? Do you really wish to get past that habit that is destroying your life? Do you want to become the person God has called you to be rather than leading the lukewarm existence of an ineffective Christian? Do you wish to get past the anger and lack of forgiveness that is only hurting you while the person you can’t forgive couldn’t care less? Until you say, “YES ” to Jesus, and stop the excuses, you won’t be able to follow His next instruction: “Get up…and walk.”
“Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD.” — PSALM 31:24