Stop. Don’t dismiss the words in bold above as ridiculous, or as typical of an angry revengeful God.
Instead think, first of all, about Jersey folk. Look at those around you. Look with one particular matter in mind as you do so – “obsessions”.
One known Jersey obsession is alcohol. A dear acquaintance of mine is under 40 and near death through alcohol. What drives him to drink? He drinks to do himself good. He (see above) drains the cup. And brings about the greatest of sorrows to those who love him as they watch him die.
Beauty is an obsession in Jersey too. The annual investment per capita in beauty in Jersey is enormous. Many retail outlets thrive on it – even in recessionary times. Why this investment? Why this obsession? Same as before – it does me good. But is there a cup here also that is being drained? There are definitely some minor cups eventually – like skin cancer through sun beds or thin hair through repeated dyeing.
Another obsession is sex - in all its forms. Our minds don’t add up the constant use (abuse?) of this kind of desire to make us buy, to drive our actions. Of all that is available surely this does me good? Yes. But there is a cup. And it is gets emptied to the dregs. In Jersey. Not seen when being imbibed – but the consequences are seen.
Money is also an obsession. Or, perhaps, not so much “money” as what money provides – security in old age, comfort, pleasure, collections of things, special treatment in illness, even longer life. A legitimate obsession, many would argue. But maybe there is a cup here - also being drained?
To identify the cup that represents the consequences of my obsessions I must take note of how obsessions actually work. Three steps.
In the case of alcohol, the first step is obvious – it’s attractiveness in my eyes. It will do me good. It does do me good!
The second step is paralysis. In the very early days of the public life of Jesus of Nazareth (around AD 30) some friends of a paralysed man brought him, lying on a stretcher, to Jesus to be healed. The original Greek word describing this man was “paralyticos”: para = resembling; lyticos=looseness. Because he was “loose” he couldn’t lift himself. He had no power.
Alcohol, beauty, sex, money – no power to stop? Folk are indeed free to continue with these (often to the exclusion of almost everything else) but not free to break away from them. They are “loose” in paralysis.
The third step in how obsessions actually work comes after attractiveness, after paralysis. As soon as strength has gone because of my captivity to my own freedom to pursue my obsessions, the third step arises.
The third step is the death. The obsessions kill inasmuch as the dear, wonderful person dies in his or her obsessions. Unreleased. Too “loose” to release themselves.
Take a look at the words in bold again.
Do they not mean something rather different to what one thought at first blush? Is it not a fact that they really speak of the simple truth that God Almighty, the Lord, the God of the Lord Jesus Christ is a God who procures just, morally righteous, consequences?
Having said that, do you recall what happened to the paralytic whom Jesus met in AD 30? In the crowded front room of a house Jesus said to the man, “Son, your sins are forgiven”. (I love that “Son” bit.) Terrific opposition resulted because others said, “That’s impossible. Only God can do that. This man Jesus is blaspheming Almighty God.”
So Jesus changed the words and said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he did so. Nice one that. He was no longer so “loose” to his obsessions that he couldn’t move. He was free.