Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Use Your Own Initiative

Reflecting this morning on a pending major-life decision I came across a few illustrations in the Gospels that reflected the sort of attitude we should take towards making a directional change in life.

On multiple occasions during his life of ministry Jesus healed a diverse following of people. He healed blind, paralytics, lame and so on. I want to draw on these examples to elucidate my point.

Whenever Christ healed someone he granted them this opportunity but he left the option open to the person receiving the healing. For example in Luke 5 Jesus heals a paralytic man who was lowered through the roof by his faithful friends (vv. 19-20). The Pharisees in an uproar ridiculed Christ for saying he can forgive the man's sins (v. 21) yet Jesus carried on his work and beckoned the man to stand up (v. 24).

This last verse is the key to my point, Christ did not lift the man up, he commanded the man to stand. It is at this very crossing point in the decision making process that will determine the result of the working of our Lord. If the man did not heed Christ's call what would the result have been? Though Scripture does not answer this hypothetical question I think we can draw on similar hypothetical questions in Scripture to demonstrate my point.

When Jonah received his instructions for the people of Ninevah, God was allowing a counterfactual to occur. If the people of Ninevah did not repent they would be destroyed. Seems a pretty direct statement. But if they did repent the city would be spared. Thus we have a clear example of a counterfactual in Scripture, so lets use this to play out the scenario of the paralytic.

If the paralytic responds to Jesus' call to stand and take his bed with him (v. 24) then the man will be healed (v. 25). However, if the man does not stand he will remain paralyzed. What we see is indeed a counterfactual situation unfolding. If the man doubts Christ can do this then he will lack the faith necessary to receive the healing offered to him (I know this last statement can be used to attempt to show that God can heal you if you have enough faith but that is not the intended use here). If he does respond his faith will be put into action and the miracle will be witnessed by all.

This is the initiative we must take to test our faith and to see if God is with us. If you are facing a tough decision in life, if you are in need of a cure and you feel God summoning you to a particular decision or cure then take the initiative and give it a try. If God is in it He will make it abundantly clear whether through circumstances, a word of a friend or a complete shutting of the opportunity before you could pursue it. The key point here is again that God requires us to take the step in faith. We cannot expect God to direct a parked car, yet when we put the car in drive and ease away from the curb onto the street then we can expect God's direction if we have sought it.

Remember, take the initiative because He is faithful!

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