I had a conversation with a writer friend the other day and he told me the main problem with many churches these days is they're more schools than hospitals. Which reminded me of something Jesus said once about coming for the sick and not the well. My writer friend said we have to see a return to the spiritual, the mysterious, and the beauty of the gospel. He might not have said it like that, but as he is a writer he understands poetic license.
We’re all stumbling bumbling idiots, aren’t we? The blind leading the blind, deaf teaching the mute, and all of us trying to make sense of our sins and secrets. It makes my head hurt to think through the issues of our day, homosexuals marrying, drone strikes, economic disasters, babies—all the babies maimed in their mother’s wombs. How can any of us make sense of anything with all the world’s answers shouting so terribly loud in our faces? But how can any of us make sense of anything with us shouting so angrily at ourselves?
Once when I was small I played a game with my brother and he told me to trust him. He took my hand and led me to a dark corner of our basement and we waited there for our father to come down and turn the light on. When he did, and the wait seemed forever, my brother whispered from one to three and we bound up with the energy we’d bottled in those ten minutes hiding. I don’t think we gave my father a fright, but he pretended we did. “Oh, my,” he said, “you surprised me!” and we rushed at him and asked him over and over, “Did we, Daddy, did we?” We had to know that we had surprised him even though deep down we knew we hadn’t.
All we like sheep have gone astray, after our own way, lurking in the dark corners, all bound up in sin sickness and death. Yet all we like good and faithful servants want to come back to Jesus and ask, “Have we done well, Jesus? Have we?” because I think we so desperately want to do well. We do. We don’t want to bring our sickness to the hospital, we want to bring our strength. We don’t want to bring our weakness to the table, we want to bring our wins.
This week, all of it, all I can feel and know is the sin sickness of my heart. I need the hospital. I need to be allowed to be sick, to not bring anything to Jesus when I come but my trembling hands and my tender heart. It is Holy Week and I want to meditate on the cross, but all I am thinking about is my sin and how I feel like a bound up pile of wrong-doing and wrong-thinking and wrong-living. But I want to make sense of it. I want to see Him in it. I want to pop out of my dark dank corners and surprise Him with my goodness and faithfulness.
But He didn’t come for people like that, did He?
He came for the sick.
And we, you and me and all of us, we are so awfully, terribly, beautifully sick in need of Him.