Walking with Jesus is an Exercise of the Willing

Jesus asked a gentleman sitting by the Pool of Bethseda in Jerusalem, “Do you want to get well?” (Come to Israel with me and Hope for Israel in 2013 and see it for yourself!) This sounds like a strange question to ask a person who’d been sick for over thirty-eight years. It’s not as strange as it sounds when you look at Jesus’ response to the man after Jesus healed him. Jesus said, “Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” (John 5:5,14)
It appears from this comment that this guy had done something thirty-eight years earlier that landed him in his current situation – the inability to get into a pool of water without help. So the question naturally arose, did this guy really want to change? Jesus gave this guy a second chance at life. Would he repeat the same behaviors that caused his sickness and end up back here at this pool or see God continually change his life as he kept walking? It was his choice now.
One of the principles I teach in my parenting classes is that parents can’t control their kids, only influence them. You can’t make your children do anything. (“I’m standing on the outside, but sitting on the inside.”) You can only influence their choices by either turning up the consequences or taking away privileges/things. A loving parent does this in order to help their children see there is a better and more satisfying way to live.
Even God can’t control us! He can sure influence us in the right direction, however. We were created with the ability to choose; thus, we must want to change. We see this truth in the Old Testament stories of God sending plagues, famines, crop failures, drought, war, etc. on the people of Israel. (Deuteronomy 28) If they chose to live in His presence, there was peace. If they chose to live their way, God would turn up the heat. His goal was to get them to return to the path to peace. He wouldn’t or couldn’t make their choices for them. Love demands that He do this.
God relates the same way with believers today. Living with a BWV is only the process of getting closer to and living in the presence of Jesus. But if you don’t use it or want to use it, no one can make you. It’s your choice. Walking with Jesus is an exercise of the willing. If you want all that Jesus has for you – love, significance and security – you must choose to keep your biblically-based filter in the “On” position. If not, you could end up sitting by a pool watching others see their lives changed.

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