After listening to an excellent sermon in church this week, http://overflowcollective.org/media.php?pageID=5 God gave me some great insight into His word. The passage we studied was John 5 about the crippled man who was at the pool of Bethesda waiting to be healed. The scripture states in the ESV version that the man was an invalid. I started thinking about the word invalid and it's different meanings and I thought of an alternate pronunciation that changes the meaning: invalid, accent on val meaning without value. In the context of the scripture, this man had spent "a long time" attempting to do something that was physically impossible for him to do. "A long time", trying the same thing and failing, over and over again. This man had no plan, he never attempted anything different, he never enlisted any help, he simply laid down and waited for something to happen. The scenario is that at this particular pool, disabled people would gather and wait for an angel to stir up the water and the first one into the pool got healed. Now remember, this man spent "a long time" lying crippled, waiting for someone to pick him up and put him on the pool. When Jesus came up to him, the man did not call out to Jesus or ask for help, Jesus initiated contact.
Obviously, this man wanted his life to change but he did absolutely nothing constructive to help his case. It can be argued that waiting for the waters to stir and going in the pool was a tradition, this man was simply following a tradition, with no hope of actually accomplishing his goal, expecting something to happen. Where the application for me comes in is I see this man as representing spiritually disabled people who follow the religious traditions of men or just lay around feeling sorry for themselves rather than actually meeting Christ. The ESV version of the Bible calls this man an invalid and that means to me that his life was invalid (accent on the val). This man offered nothing to society, he simply lay by the pool, uselessly, never utilizing the gifts or talents that God gave him. When we follow blind tradition or sit around waiting for something to happen without seeking after God, we are invalid, in other words, we have no spiritual value.
It is only when we recognize Christ and His desire to change us and guide us through His Spirit and His Word that we can see our lives garner spiritual value. This also ties into something we discussed on Thursday night during Bible study. Looking at Matthew 3 we saw the incident where Jesus comes to John the Baptist for baptism. John hesitated in baptizing Christ as he recognized that Christ was greater than he. That is the beginning of spiritual growth, recognizing who God is and allowing Him to have an impact in our lives. Our view of who God is cannot be shaped by our worldview, our worldview must be dictated by who God is as He has revealed Himself to us in His word.
Horror author Stephen King, in an interview with NPR recently stated a belief in "a higher power" and he indicated that the design of the universe caused him to understand that there is a supreme being involved in that design. If you have ever read a Stephen King novel, there is very little in it that would bring glory to God. Stephen King acknowledges God but based on his writing, does not allow his worldview to be influenced by God as revealed in scripture. King, who claims faith in God claims Christianity, and raised Methodist, does not espouse evangelical concepts. Instead, we see King using Biblical themes minus the redemptive work of Christ. Much of Kings work celebrates good conquering evil by the power of good people. While this is a nice thought, it does not match up to Biblical truth. Man has no power over evil as demonstrated by our need for the cross. So in a sense, the writing of Stephen King demonstrates an example of a world view shaping a belief in God and His dealings with man. The sad part is, that the christian community is so starved for anything that entertains us and has even a modicum of faith value that we see the writings of Stephen King lauded in christian circles. At one time, King was my favorite author but many years ago, I became convicted by his overt worldly and often sexual content, I gave up reading any of his books once and for all.
The bottom line is that in order to have any spiritual value, we must allow our lives to be shaped by the truth of God the creator of heaven and earth, the redeemer of man and the lover of our souls. A true encounter with God, a God influenced worldview, and the desire for and the allowing of Christ to come into our lives to change it and shape it is required if we want our lives to have any spiritual value.