Friday, January 9, 2015

Which Is Easier?

Reading this morning in Matthew 9.
A paralyzed man was brought to Jesus and Jesus spoke comfortingly to the man, telling him that his sins were forgiven.
This ticked the pharisees off b/c they knew only God could forgive sins. So they understood Jesus was saying He is God.
But that was only half the problem in their eyes. I mean, if Jesus is God, then why doesn't He heal the man, hmmmmm?
Jesus called them on their snide thoughts.
And then He healed the paralyzed man.
We all know the story, right?
But I didn't notice until today that when Jesus busts out their hidden arrogance - He asks them a question: Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'.
Obviously they thought it was easier to say, 'Your sins are forgiven' than to actually speak decayed and useless limbs into life and movement. Maybe deep inside we think the same.
And it would be easier if, when Jesus spoke those words about removing sin, nothing happened supernaturally. If the man's sins were still weighing on his conscience, if he was still carrying the normal human load of "coulda, shoulda, woulda...", if Jesus' words were just words and nothing else, the pharisees would have been right.
But for those sins to actually be shifted off this man's conscience and onto the Savior, to be totally removed as far as the east is from the west never to be brought up again - that apparently requires more power than to make neurons and spinal fluid and nerves and blood suddenly come together in harmony to orchestrate life where there was no physical movement or response before. Which means that sin is more devastating than a broken spinal cord, not too put it too bluntly.
Sin isn't: "I didn't do my best today."
Sin is: "I didn't measure up to Holy God's standard today."
Jesus' answer to that is, "I know you didn't. You can't. And so I came down from Heaven and did it for you."
All the religions in the world can pretty much be broken up into two camps:
Man's efforts to reach up to God.
God reaching down to man.
The first is called "works" - i.e., working hard to establish and maintain a relationship with God.
The second is called "grace" - i.e., trusting in what God has done for you and living a life of faith and gratitude because of it.
This week I sat with an extremely moral, loving, hardworking person - someone I highly respect - and listened to that person brokenly sob off and on for a couple of hours. Why? Because the sins of parents some three decades ago are still with my friend.
When my friend does their best and life happens and things still fall apart b/c of circumstances beyond human control - at those times my friend still sees the anger in a parent's eyes, still remembers the blows, still hears the messages: you could have done better, you should have known better, you could have worked harder, you can be perfect, people in our family always succeed, if you do your best, things will work out, God helps those who help themselves, yada yada yada...
And I realized that sin has long tentacles made out of tough fibers called lies, half-truths, and deceptions- tentacles that can stretch out over decades and do harm for a lifetime. ANd beyond.
And today I understand that,yes, sin is harder to get rid of than physical paralysis. And I thank God that He can do both.

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