A health check-up for our life of faith

Joyless and weary? Set in your ways and irreconcilable? — These are symptoms of a sickness in our life of faith. But there is a very simple cure: saying “yes” to Him who wants to—and will—help everyone.

“When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’” — The Bible text that formed the basis of Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider’s sermon on 14 March 2017 in Quebec City was taken from John 5: 6. The context: at the pool of Bethesda Jesus healed a paralysed man whom no one else had ever helped: “Rise, take up your bed and walk!” The sick man heeded the words of Jesus and told everyone about his miraculous healing.

“These are the lessons we can learn from this healing in Bethesda,” explained the Chief Apostle:

  • “Jesus wants to—and can—save all sinners,
  • He does not exclude anyone, He does not forget anyone,
  • He only saves those who want to be saved,
  • in order to be saved, it is necessary to believe in His word and do that which He tells us,
  • we must proclaim to others that Jesus is the Saviour.”

Symptoms of spiritual paralysis

The Church leader said that the biblical account also poses a question to each and every believer, namely: “Are there any symptoms of spiritual paralysis in me?” He then called upon his listeners to repeatedly undertake a spiritual check-up. As examples of “spiritual paralysis” he mentioned:

  • a lack of development in faith life,
  • a lack of joy in divine service and congregational life,
  • the feeling that one is not in a position to help along actively,
  • the inability to forgive one’s neighbour.

Redemption is at stake!

Often we do not look for the source of these problems within ourselves, but rather with others: “It is the Priest’s fault. It is the Church’s fault. It is our neighbour’s fault.” But the right way to see it is: “The problem lies with us! We are paralysed. We no longer make any spiritual progress. We no longer manage to find any joy.”

But by no means should we resign ourselves to this situation, because our spiritual growth is just as fundamental a prerequisite for entering into glory as our commitment to the Lord and our reconciliation with our neighbour. “My redemption is at stake!”

Accepting the offer

And where do we find help? — From Jesus Christ: “Do you want to be made well?” It is important to answer this question with a resolute “Yes!” said Chief Apostle Schneider clearly:

  • “Let us make the wellbeing of our soul priority number one, and let us tell God this!”
  • “Have courage of faith, and just do what God expects of you. Respond to His call and put your trust in Him.”
  • “For our salvation it is at times necessary to go against the pressures […] of those around us”—be it the pressures of society, tradition, or convention. When it comes to reconciliation, this might entail taking the first step, even though we see ourselves as being absolutely in the right.

The conclusion of the Chief Apostle: the Lord can heal us from all spiritual suffering—provided that we want to be saved and that we are resolved to make the necessary efforts.

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Andreas Rother
Canada, Chief Apostle, Divine service