I am merely one person in the multitudinous droves these days who concern themselves with the topic of "health and wellness." With the uncontrolled spreading of a new worldwide virus, our attention is shifted to this topic's greatest antagonist:
Sickness can be scary. When a young child is severely ill in the middle of the night, with no clear reason or hope for relief, panic sets in. When we’re fever-ridden in bed, unable to function, the thoughts can assail us: “Will this ever go away?”
Sickness comes with symptoms, and they can be painful. We do everything we can to alleviate them. It’s fascinating to me that the pain and symptoms of sickness can actually be the most beneficial tools we have to get us back on the path to health.
I’m amazed, as I read the Gospel of John, at the ways Jesus interacts with hurting people. People with severe illnesses would come to Him for help. Continuously He would stop, talk to them (without a mask!), touch them, minister to them, and even heal them. He seemed to embrace these difficult circumstances as opportunities to share His healing words that were “full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, 17)
I’ve noticed a timely theme John seems to take up throughout his Gospel account: Jesus came to earth to bring LIFE and HEALTH to the world.
About Jesus, John explains, “All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being... in Him was life.” (John 1:2-4)
LIFE (in its healthiest form) was created by and is sustained by Jesus – it’s found IN HIM. What’s amazing to me is that this LIFE that’s in Christ is not simply physical life. There’s a deeper realm of “life” that Jesus, through many conversations with his followers, tries to explain; a different kind of health that most people can readily admit they are concerned about... soul-health!
You know what I’m talking about, right?
... our internal struggle to be “OK”
... our desperate longing to be significant or loved
... our disparity in dealing with our own failures and inconsistencies
... our frustration with other people's selfishness
... our emptiness felt even after realizing our deepest desires
Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32)
If you have a runny nose, headache, cough, or fever, you will probably come to the conclusion that you’re physically sick. If you’re depressed, chronically self-centered, lacking joy, stuck in addiction, or loaded down with emotional burdens, it would only make sense to investigate whether or not you’re spiritually sick.
In fact, I’d guess that some of these spiritual “symptoms,” common to us all, cause us to read blogs and listen to podcasts in hopes to find some relief. It was these same "inner symptoms" that brought many people to Jesus, sometimes even questioning and accusing Him, but always hopeful to find in Him some glimpse of a cure to their inability to do life right or live up to their own or other’s expectations.
The discomfort of these “inner-symptoms” are the very things that cause us to look for the Almighty God; seeking help, answers, and truth!
Right now, across the globe, people are scrambling to get their hands on one of the newly created vaccines for the Corona Virus. (I know what some of you are thinking, but we can discuss our opinions about the wisdom in taking, or not taking, this vaccine later!)
Vaccines are, in general, a great gift from the field of medicine to combat terrible sicknesses that used to claim the lives of many. But what if the life being claimed is your spiritual life?
What if your symptoms are those of spiritual unhealthiness?
How can we find relief from those?
Society says that the vaccine to heal our lack of peace and joy is to get married and to have a couple kids... or to be successful in our careers so we can live comfortably for the rest of our days... or to keep our houses tidy while at the same time cooking a tasty AND healthy meal for our families every evening.
A popular opinion in churches today is that the cure to our struggle with sin is to dedicate a certain amount of time to daily prayer... or to read our Bibles every day... or to surround ourselves with the right kind of people... or to get ourselves in a good support group.
Don’t get me wrong - these practices are oftentimes beneficial, but somehow very difficult to keep doing consistently. Thankfully, the Gospel of John explains a spiritual vaccine and the means by which to obtain it, very differently than abiding by a set of principles and their corresponding practices.
Instead, Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) Through HIM (not our own efforts) we are able to experience true LIFE... not life ONE DAY, but spiritual Life and soul-health TODAY.
You see, Jesus Himself is the vaccine; His life infused into ours, His perfection covering our imperfections, and His spiritual health replacing our fallen flesh. He came to earth to give Himself for us, that we might be saved from a soul-sickness that has no cure.
So, how is this “vaccine” administered? How do we fully accept Christ’s life?
Here’s what John says:<