When I No Longer Need God
See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you. John 5:14
When it comes to my drug addiction, I’ve been given more than a few second chances. Each time, in the painful consequences of relapse, I’d promise that I would stay on the right path this time. I told myself I’d remember the despair, so I’d never returned to it. I vowed and swore that I’d follow God every day for the rest of my life. Every time though, as life returned to normal, my dedication faded. In the misery I worked at recovery. As the pain faded, I grew lazy, gradually returning to my way, which inevitably spiraled back into relapse.
Jesus warned against this kind of apathy in today’s passage. In the story, he visited Bethesda, a pool in Jerusalem, apparently known for its miraculous healing powers. There, he encountered a blind, paralyzed man who had been lying there, waiting for healing for 38 years. Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk (John 5:8).” The man was healed after which, Jesus provided this stern warning, Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.
Jesus wasn’t necessarily saying that the man’s previous infirmity was a result of his sin. He was, I think, making a much bolder statement. Jesus warned that if the man abandoned his newfound faith, that he would find a life more miserable than lying paralyzed for 38 years. Follow me. If you don’t, if you follow your way, you will find yourself in a condition that will be more wretched than the one in which I found you.
Because Christ knows all men (John 2:25), he knew that it was this man’s nature to desperately seek God only when he needed something. He knew that once healed, this man’s desperation would fade. Devotion would turn to apathy once his need was removed.
Most of us are like this. In the tempest, we seek God. Once the storm passes, we imagine we don’t need him anymore and so, we go back to business as usual, which inevitably returns us to our misery. The truth though, is that we will never get to a point where we don’t need God. If we desire to stay on the narrow path to faith and recovery, then daily, we must choose to follow God as if our life depends on it, because it does.