That is a problem and it is not a new one. Sometimes our sickness gets us attention, sometimes we have simply had the pain so long that it has come to be part of our day. What would I do if my shoulder did not hurt? Would I be me if I were not very near sighted?
Jesus went to a place where every so often a healing took place. There he found a man who had spent years waiting for healing and asked: “Will you be made whole?”
“Well, of course, Lord,” I think, “Who does not want to be healed?” Then I remember the anger I have toward somebody else. That anger is bad for me, but I also enjoy the hatred (if I am honest). That person is bad. Jesus comes to me and asks:
“Do you want to be made whole?”
“Yes,” and then I realize the hate will go and I pause, “Yes. I guess I do.”
Only then can I be free.
This is obvious, but what about more socially acceptable vices? I enjoy eating, but need to moderate my intake. Do I want to be whole if it means giving up favorite snacks or eating less?
My first response is: “Yes, if I could be fit immediately, like this man was healed.” The text gives me pause, because Jesus says: “Go, take up your bed, and walk.” I am not going to get to just stay where I am, but will need to respond to the healing. Am I willing to move if healed? You cannot stay in the hospital if you are better, and perhaps I have grown used to the hospital.
Being better has a downside. The healed man in this story immediately faces persecution. All the truly sociopathic bother a sick man, but once the man is healed the rulers, the bad guys, come out in force. A sick man is an object of pity, but if you stop being a paralytic, then you can become a player in our culture wars. The healed man has to stand up and tell the truth, take a risk. Wallowing on the mat with pity is easier than standing before the Sanhedrin and saying: “Jesus healed me.”
Do I want to be whole?
What if my reading leads to answers? Our cultural police will allow a religious man who is unsure, apologetic, and tentative. Those are, in fact, good traits to have and we all come back to them as we study, but we also learn. We look at the world and come to see what was, is, and what appears to be coming. If we are made intellectually whole, then we might offend the rulers of this age.
Isn’t it easier to stay on our mat and say we “are waiting on God?”
Maybe, but I want to be whole. God help me, I want to be whole, a mind awake, a body that can stand, and deliver the good word that Jesus healed me. He did, is, and will.
I want to be whole.