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My annual physical is coming up. I’m anticipating the various encouragements and reprimands I might receive from the doctor; my blood pressure is too this or my cholesterol is too that.

I find myself joining that stereotypical population of men who dislike the doctor’s office, or even avoid it altogether when the time comes for a full lookover. I’m sure there are a whole host of reasons as to why this is, but at some point, I wonder if it is the discomfort of being told a truth you already know but wish you didn’t.

In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis reflects upon the nature of sinfulness and our relationship with God and writes these painfully truthful words:

When I was a child I often had toothache, and I knew that if I went to my mother she would give me something which would deaden the pain for that night and let me get to sleep. But I did not go to my mother—at least, not till the pain became very bad. And the reason I did not go was this. I did not doubt she would give me the aspirin; but I knew she would also do something else. I knew she would take me to the dentist next morning. I could not get what I wanted out of her without getting something more, which I did not want. I wanted immediate relief from pain: but I could not get it without having my teeth set permanently right. And I knew those dentists: I knew they started fiddling about with all sorts of other teeth which had not yet begun to ache. They would not let sleeping dogs lie, if you gave them an inch they took an ell.

Now, if I may put it that way, Our Lord is like the dentists. If you give Him an inch, He will take an ell. Dozens of people go to Him to be cured of some one particular sin which they are ashamed of or which is obviously spoiling daily life. Well, He will cure it all right: but He will not stop there. That may be all you asked; but if once you call Him in, He will give you the full treatment.

I wonder if this is a reason why perhaps we are hesitant to be in a fully intimate relationship with God. We desire to be healed of one particular pain or sin so as to be embraced by a loving Father, but in order for this to occur in its fullest sense God doesn’t stop with just one sin. Instead God gives us a full lookover. At this possibility, we often decide to keep God at a distance.

I worry we’ve normalized arm’s length relationships with not only God but also with each other. I worry we have become apathetic in the way we approach and embrace relationships. Instead of meaningful and long-lasting, we accept surface level and seasonal friendships. Instead of conversations that lead to further trust with our spouses and loved ones, we bottle up our emotions so as not to rock the boat or risk the relationship. And instead of a full relationship between God and the truest version of ourselves, we keep God at a distance hoping he’ll only offer the immediate relief of an aspirin.

I hope each of us are willing to wade into the deep waters of God. I pray we have the courage and vulnerability to be seen, known, and loved by God. Whether we’re relatively new to the church, been going to church our whole lives, or are just a pastor who doesn’t like going to his annual physical…may God continue to draw us closer to each other as we’re drawn closer to him.

Photo by Abby Anaday on Unsplash

Mark Waterstone

Mark Waterstone pastors Rose Park Reformed Church in Holland, Michigan.

One Comment

  • RZ says:

    Well done Mark. Jesus never kept his gospel close to the comfortable surface. Blindness and denial were a constant theme.

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