18 December 2008

Well, You Don't Have Pneumonia...

The tiny middle-eastern female doctor's tone seemingly hid the words, "but you could've gotten it, ya big dummy."

As any of my Twitter or Facebook followers know, I've had a long bout with bronchitis. Seemingly, it's been clinging to me for a month and I thought my bout was almost over. And it may have been so, until I do the one thing we men tend to do so well: outpace ourselves.

It's this little seed of pride/rebellion/foolishness that's inside all of us (although men seem to have an extra dose) that says, "You'll be fine...ride it out...you don't need any help...you're a man's man...you can find your own way."


So, we trudge forward. In matters of health, we avoid doctors, self-medicate, and seek comfort through these remedies of our choice and act pathetic & irritable for a little extra attention. Yet, if we would drink more fluids and get more rest, recovery could be so much quicker.

But how often does this mirror matters of the spirit? We avoid spending time with the Word, relish previous spiritual triumphs, and involve ourselves in too little or too much at church to be productive.

With our health, a doctor can often provide medications that will help our body heal itself. They know more about our condition than we do. With our spirit, spending time with God is the only way to know what He wants to do in and through our lives. God knows us better than we do. After all, He made us!

The book of James is so rich and spiritual meat. Check it out:

James 1:22 "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does."

How fitting. We spend so much time filling up our lives and our schedules with stuff. Things to do, places to be, food to eat, and so little time is spent "listening" and "doing" what we know we should do.

I can't help but think about all the luxuries we have at church: comfortable seats, heating and air, multimedia equipment, and resources out the wazoo.

We have jam-packed Sunday School time with pre-prepared lessons and a jam-packed worship time with an order of service. Both have agendas planned out. Then, we fellowship in the hallways in passing.

How backwards.

It's a condition of our society and our hearts. We need to know what to expect, how long it's going to last, how much are we going to give up of our time and day?

If we get out early, we rejoice or grumble about why we even went. If we get out late, we're frustrated about our time being stolen by long-winded ministers or programs.

What if we really just enjoyed each other's company? What if we did what we should do, as the Book of James eludes to? What if we allowed time to share what's on our hearts. Knew each other well enough to trust? Took time to pray? What if we got real?

I think our bodies have a tendency to shut us down...stop us in our tracks through sickness. For Christians, I feel it's the same but maybe a bit more - like God saying, "I need you to listen."

Remember how God answers prayers in "yes," "no," and "wait" or "maybe"? I like "wait" better, since it implies that one needs to chill for a bit...now's not the time to know...God is saying, "You need to trust me."

James also talks about another issue we Christians have:

James 1:26 "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

Two great nuggets in there. One being, you might consider yourself a good Christan but if you tear down others with your words, you've got a problem. And, what God values is taking care of those in need. Not just orphans and widows but - oops, here it is, again - TAKING TIME TO LOVE SOMEONE. Being there for them. Talking to them, helping them move some furniture, spending time in extended session at church, loving other people where they are.

I love what Jesus said in Matthew 25:35: "I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink"...Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?...Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me."

It's not about lessons, sermons, lights, cameras, computers, chairs, the color of the carpet, if you meet an hour, who brings the coffee...it's about people.

If we can't have compassion or love for our friends, family, coworkers or church members...how can we have love for orphans, widows, and others in need? Or perhaps it's easier to love people we don't know. No strings attached.

Regardless, I challenge you to check your heart. Spend some time in the Word. Spend some time listening. Definitely spend some time doing what you need to do. If you're willing to be willing, God will reveal His plan for you for that day, hour, or minute.