Death by Strep Throat

Luke 5:27-32 Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, "Follow me."
And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him.
Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house,
and a large crowd of tax collectors
and others were at table with them.
The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying,
"Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?"
Jesus said to them in reply,
"Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners."

Have you ever been offended by someone? It’s possible that you haven’t been. I mean, our society has become extraordinarily proficient at preventing any amount of language or conversation that could create any degree of discomfort or challenge - and instead encourages overt affirmation and acceptance leading to fantastic and unprecedented complacency.

For example, in ancient and unenlightened times, a peasant may have received abusive messages like, “Jesus is calling you to greatness, so repent and become the best version of yourselves.” Whereas today, the messages are more along the lines of, “If he even exists, Jesus loves you just the way you are. You don’t need to change a thing.”

Jesus is so clear about what he wants FOR us and FROM us in the Gospels. He wants our existence to have a profound and glorious meaning. He wants us to do incredible things in his name - EVERY day. He and only he can take the broken pieces of who we are meant to be and repair our souls. He is the ultimate and divine physician.

All he needs FROM us is our vulnerability.

If we are not willing to acknowledge that we have a sore throat, the doctor cannot help us heal.

I remember a time several years ago when my brother had strep throat that had gone too long undiagnosed. Those little bacteria had developed quite the ferocious colony in his throat. I was one of the few people he allowed to see his throat at the time. When I gazed upon the infection, I instantly understood why he didn’t want others to see it. It was indeed truly ferocious and frankly terrifying. He understandably was ashamed of disgusting the people around him if they were to see it. All I felt was pain and deep sadness for him. The extreme conditions that had developed in his throat had put him in the emergency room and almost killed him.

What are the ailments in our souls that we have avoided bringing to the light? What are the pains in our hearts that we have so closely guarded and held so tightly? What if we were willing to let go? What if we sought healing from THE doctor, Jesus?

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
John 20:19-23

Many people don’t realize this, but there was a small group of people that received the Holy Spirit in a powerful way BEFORE Pentecost. As a part of his loving and beautiful plan to bring our souls healing and peace, Jesus anointed and ordained his disciples to bring us the forgiveness of God in a powerful, unambiguous and explicit way. In the 2,000 year old Roman Catholic tradition (literally going all the way back to that moment in the upper room with Jesus), it goes by several names: Penance, Reconciliation and Confession.

From a scriptural standpoint, the Sacrament of Confession is the most pointed, beautiful and powerful way (after Baptism) that we have to seek healing of the soul. But, regardless of your Christian denomination and traditions, I want to encourage and challenge you to a radical degree of self-awareness and vulnerability with God. He wants so much to make you whole - and to help you live your best, and most radical life.

We only get one life. Don’t waste it protecting yourself from healing. Join me in repentance, and follow Jesus.

I love you.

Your brother on the journey,