Do You Want to Get Well?

January 29th, 2014

In John 5:2-9, we are told of an encounter between Jesus and a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. There was an urban legend, if you will, about an angel coming and stirring the pool at Bethesda, and the first person who entered the stirred pool would be healed of their sickness.

This man never could find his way into the pool when it was being stirred. And, so when Jesus sees him, Jesus asks the man: "Do you want to get well?"

Well, yes! That's why he stayed near the pool, for a chance to get healed.

It's such an obvious answer. Could you imagine how annoyed you would be if you went to the doctor (and after waiting an eternity) the doctor says to you, "So, are you here to get better?" Well, yes! Why else would I be here?

About 3 years ago, I was minding my own business, watching TV, er—diligently reading the Bible—when my wife came up to me and said that she wanted to take out a life insurance policy—because nothing says I love you like, "I want to make a small profit off of you if and when you die."

The life insurance company sent someone to do a basic health assessment and blood was drawn and tears may have been shed (I don't like needles.) The results came in and, at the age of 30, it turns out I had a high cholesterol level. I wanted a second opinion so I went to my normal doctor and it was confirmed: I indeed had high cholesterol. He gave me two options—one was to be on medication. But he warned that I'd be on medication for the rest of my life. The other option was to exercise regularly and be more mindful of what I eat and, since I was young enough, I could get it under control.

I went with the latter option. I was gung-ho for the first couple of weeks, maybe even a month. I got up and ran. I opted for salads instead of burgers and fries. When my wife was out of town, I didn't eat In-N-Out for lunch and dinner (on the same day).

But after a while, I had to ask Is it worth all this hard work for an extra 2, 3, 5, 10 years of my life? Why not do whatever I want and just die in 15 years?

I learned (and am learning) that wanting to get well is completely different than actually getting well. I mean, who in the world doesn't want to get better? Get healthier? But, we say things like, "I know I should quit..." Knowing is different than doing. Wanting to get well is easy. Getting well requires commitment and sacrifice; it requires a new attitude—a new life.

38 years of something—even physical ailment and pain—is easy to get accustomed to—comfortable even. Jesus was asking, "Are you okay with the way your life has been for 38 years? Or are you willing to really change?"

Can you imagine the scene if the next day, after being healed, this man was right back where he was, waiting for the pool to stir? "Jesus, it was easier when I was an invalid. I didn't have to worry about anything. People carried me around. I didn't have responsibilities. People left me alone—in fact, they did stuff for me. Things were just easier when I waited around the pool."

As ridiculous as that may sound, some of us often adopt that mentality—when push comes to shove, we prefer to just have things the way they were.

In our United Methodist Annual Conference, it is no secret that we want our churches to grow—particularly with younger folks.

We want to get younger... to grow... to stay relevant. But wanting is different than actually doing. There are too many stories of churches wanting a younger pastor to bring about changes, but when that younger pastor came, they did't realize that changing actually meant changing—doing things differently. When push comes to shove, we prefer to do the same thing over and over and hope that things will end differently. As Einstein said, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Many of us seem like we would rather remain insane than get well.

Wanting to get well is simple. Thinking about getting well is even easier. But actually getting well—that requires commitment, sacrifice, a new attitude, and a new lifestyle.

So, do you want to get well? 

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