June 15, 2013
"Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven', or 'Get up and walk'? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins'—Jesus said to the one who was paralyzed—'I say to you, get up and take your bed and go to your home.'" - Luke 5: 23-24
Breaking up, so the song goes, is hard to do. Getting up can be even harder. Just ask a teenager. Better yet, ask the teen's mother.
Getting out of bed is hard when we are exhausted, knocked down, burned out, and when we are facing an unwelcome change, which accounts for at least 90% of them. No doubt you are resisting a change in your life right now.
It was no different in the time of Jesus. Pharisees resisted stylistic change, Sadducees resisted social change, scribes resisted theological change, rulers resisted political change, merchants resisted economic change and regular people resisted forgiveness change.
What's "forgiveness change"? It's what happens when God's healing grace invades our lives and calls us to leave old ways behind. For an alcoholic it means avoiding certain streets. For the short-tempered it means counting to ten on a regular basis. For media-heads it means taking more time for silence and fresh air. For pastors it means humbling ourselves enough to separate from church for one day each week. It's hard.
For the paralyzed man in the gospel story, it meant picking up his mat and going home, a glorious and frightening prospect. Forgiveness is as much a release of the past as it is an invitation to step forward.
Forgiveness is God's work, our job is to get up and walk.
God, remind me I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, one step and one day at a time.
About the Author
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.
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