Do you want to get well?
I’ve been thinking about that question a lot lately. Because it sounds like a silly question. If you asked a sick person if they want to get well, chances are you’d get some weird looks.
But as I look at the world around us, I think about the story of Jesus approaching the paralyzed man at the pool. He’s been laying there for years. Jesus, inexplicably, picks him out the crowd. He doesn’t ask how long he’s been there. He doesn’t ask if he needs help into the pool. He asks instead,
“Do you want to get well.”
At first, I wondered why Jesus would ask such a question. But the more I think about it, the more I realize it’s not such a dumb question after all. Our modern culture is positively obsessed with wellness, health, and self-improvement…
…But do we actually want to get well?
The answer to that question, I’m not so sure of.
Walking Away From the Former Life
Let’s think about the episode with Jesus and the paralyzed man for a minute.
The man is there with a bunch of other sick people. They are superstitiously trying to dip themselves in the water when it bubbles up from an underground spring, believing that an angel is stirring the water.
The paralyzed man has been this way for years. His life revolves around this pool. He can’t work, so he begs for money. His life is a mess. No one would want this life.
Yet, Jesus asks him if he actually wants to get well. Because being well won’t just mean walking. It will mean walking away from the life he’s known. No more begging. No more pity from strangers. He’ll have to, literally and figuratively, stand on his own two feet. That proposition could actually be a bit scary. After all, the devil you know can be more comforting than the devil you don’t, even if the devil you know is being paralyzed, begging for money.
A Wellness-Obsessed, Completely Unhealthy Society
I’m not just daydreaming about this Bible story for no reason.
I look at the shape we are in today. Americans love wellness. We love watching people lose extreme amounts of weight on TV. We love purchasing gym memberships, home exercise equipment, and DVDs.
But we are still among the unhealthiest developed nations on earth. The gym memberships and exercise equipment go unused. It seems we love watching other people get in shape, but we don’t care enough about ourselves to do the same.
Or take mental health. A quarter of adults are on prescription antidepressants. A higher percentage of the population than ever is on mind-altering drugs. You’d think we’d be the happiest people on earth. But, somehow, it seems we still feel like crap about ourselves.
The same goes with our spiritual health. There are more books and resources than ever before. The scriptures and spiritual advice are more accessible than ever. Yet the spiritual health of our culture, by just about every measure, continues to decline.
Heck, I look at myself, all the ways I’m not as healthy as I should be in my mind, body and spirit.
Is Tom Cruise Crazier Than You?
Yes, I’ve come to the conclusion that Jesus’ question was not so crazy. Because we may pray about a sickness or a situation in our lives. We may beg God to make us better. But deep down, in a place we aren’t willing to admit, we don’t really want to get well.
People who want to get well are willing to do things that look crazy to people on the outside. They are willing to get on a TV show, have surgery, spend thousands of dollars, stand up on paralyzed legs when Jesus tells them to.
Tom Cruise is rumored to have spent five years and $100,000 on Scientology. Sounds crazy, right? So why would a person do that? Because Scientology, at its core, is a faith about wellness. And if you strip away all the other beliefs, Tom Cruise is willing to spend all that time and money simply because he doesn’t feel well. And he’s willing to do something that looks crazy to the rest of us to become well.
I look at sick people, and sick marriages and sick spirits. I look at all of our addictions and obsessions and the ways we abuse ourselves. I look at churches and companies and governments that seem to suffer from some kind of low-grade fever. And I’ve just come to the conclusion that the reason God doesn’t heal more of us, the reason God doesn’t answer more of our prayers, the reason God doesn’t send a revival is simply because we don’t really want it. If Jesus asked us if we really wanted to get well, the answer in our hearts just might be “No, I’m comfortable laying on the ground, thank you.”
What do you think? Are we a wellness-obsessed culture that doesn’t actually want to get well? Tell me about your successful wellness stories!