Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A second question - about human will (3)

It’s about moral healing too.

All that can be said about physical weakness applies to moral weakness too. When we are feel weak and incapable, then not very much can be asked of us…can it?  That is made clear for this man later when Jesus finds him and tells him that he is to stop sinning so that nothing worse happens to him. Our lack of wholeness is inextricably bound up with our sin, our rebellion against God.

Throughout my pastoral ministry I have known people who have become so used to their sins that if asked by Jesus: Do you will to be well?, bluntly say no. 

I remember a churchgoer telling me, in a moment of desperation, how addicted he was to pornography and no matter how much he tried to get rid of the cause, it was always ready to overpower him. It had been going on for years. I don’t know how many years -perhaps 38. “So many people are like me, he said.,” I just wish I had more strength but I don’t.”  C.S.  Lewis wrote of the lizard on the shoulder. St. Augustine had a prayer: 'Lord make me chaste but not just yet'.  The idea of being more like Jesus Christ, more holy and pure is so attractive and I would like to be better, but not just yet.

And so helplessly acquiescing into darkness, such morally weak life gives up praying “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil” as a lost cause.  And when Jesus asks: Do you will to get well? answers No.

I also remember someone whose violent temper had exploded yet again, damaging family and church. “Oh, I’m afraid our family has always had hot tempers. I know how quickly we can lose our tempers and say the most terrible things about people, and yes, we do hold the most bitter grudges and find it difficult to forgive.  Perhaps for 38 years?

Jesus Christ addresses long term moral sickness and weakness and calls people to break cycles of moral weakness and despair by responding with moral responsibility to him. Do you really want to? Christlikeness seems so good at a distance. But now?  It is too easy to answer: 'In theory, yes. But I’ll let another day go by'.


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