I Didn't Know I Was Sick Until I Was Better
written by Jimmy Newkirk, Associate Pastor (September 10, 2022)
A friend once commented, "I didn't know I was sick until I was better". Her life-long health condition had just been discovered and treated. Her observation was simple yet incredibly profound. Too often, we are oblivious to the severity of our own condition. We are so accustomed to the way things are that we don't realize they can be better.
Our patterns and customs become engrained in our definition of normal and our normal becomes an acceptable reality. What we have experienced, we learn to expect. An abused spouse often begins to accept the accusations of worthlessness. The abandoned child thinks that they cannot be loved. The impoverished believe they will always be without, and using the same pattern of thought, even the rich think they cannot be poor. We expect what we have always experienced.
Might I add that lost sinners cannot imagine forgiveness. The dead cannot imagine life. They do not even know that they are dead. That is, until Jesus calls them to life in Himself (John 6:44 and 12:32).
Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:1-3, "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also."
Our condition was hopeless: we were dead but didn't know it. We "walked" - in other words, actively participated in - "the ways of this world". We went about our daily business "carrying out the inclinations of the flesh … as children under wrath". Consider the weight of that statement: we were under the wrath of God and yet went about our business as though that were normal. Truly, this is one of the most absurd and illogical paradigms conceivable.
"But God …" What an incredible transition is made with those two words. He continues in verse 4-5, "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!"
Herein lies the beauty of the gospel. Because of God's grace, love, and mercy, we are freed from our bondage of sin and given new life in Christ.
While these truths are most evident among the unsaved as they come to life in Christ, the pattern of transformation should be seen daily among the redeemed as well. So, we must ask: why do we as Christians fail to live a life of joy, embracing the "immeasurable riches of His grace (v7)"? Why do we, who have been granted eternal life and heavenly treasure, try to satisfy the base needs of our fleshly nature instead of finding our complete satisfaction in Christ?
C.S. Lewis put it this way in The Weight of Glory, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Scripture instructs us, “So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your, life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Therefore, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature …” (Colossians 3:1–5).
It is my prayer that you recognize and seek the joy that awaits you as you dwell in the love and grace of Jesus. Do not settle for mud pies in the slum of sin when the richness of peace and satisfaction in God Himself are freely offered. Don’t live in the rut of sickness when true health and life awaits.