An interesting little device was discovered in the attic of my grandparent’s home a few years ago. This strange contraption that appeared to date from the first half of the 20th century was equipped with lightbulbs and gages… and boldly inscribed upon it was the claim that it was the cure for cancer.
This gadget has spawned more than one discussion of whether or not it should be taken to the Antiques Roadshow to try to figure out what in the world it is! We don’t know if it was intended to be a hoax, a fraud, or if someone mistakenly thought that they really had the cure for diseases that plague us still today.
Old medical treatments often intrigue me. We shake our heads at the thought of bleeding sick people with leeches or curing cancer with a lightbulb. Because doctors did not understand the cause of the symptoms they were seeing, their “cures” sound outlandish and childlike to us. They didn’t understand what the problem really was, so they couldn’t even begin to understand how to solve it.
Each one of us has a serious disease that is eating us alive. It is a sickness that is often misdiagnosed, and the cures that we frequently self-prescribe are far from effective because they fail to treat the real problem.
The sickness we suffer from is sin – we are completely and totally depraved. It is true that we are not all as bad as we could be; not many of us have committed adultery, murdered another person, or otherwise become felons. But sin is invasive in our lives. It pervades every ounce of our being.
My thinking is distorted by sin and I cannot perceive things correctly on my own. My emotions are distorted by sin and my feelings lie to me. My will is distorted by sin and I do not want to do what I should do. Even when I attempt to do what is right and good, my perception of what is good is often skewed, my emotions steer me away from truth, and frankly I often just don’t want to do it.
I am a sinner.
There are common “cures” that are often prescribed for this debilitating sickness – but none of them will cure the problem any more than a lightbulb will cure cancer.
Some people attempt to solve their sin-sickness simply by denying it. “How dare you say that I am a sinner! I am not a bad person – I’ve never murdered anyone!” This approach is common… and tragic. For no matter how much we try to deny it, no one is good but God alone. We are sinners, whether we recognize it or not.
Similar to denying it, this approach relies on comparison and denial. “I’m not as bad as that person over there…” We try to rationalize away our sin by thinking that being a “sinner” means that a person is the worst of the worst in society – an obvious blight on the human race. But, like a cancer patient claiming that she doesn’t have cancer because her tumor isn’t as large as the one in the patient next to her, this fails to address the real and deadly problem.
Baptizing it in religion.
This approach is common… and deceiving. Many people believe that the cure for their sin-sickness is to be more religious. To go to church frequently, to sing in the choir, to hang crosses on chains around their neck, pray prayers before bedtime, or perhaps investigate the approaches other religions have taken to deal with their disease of sin. This false “cure” is like a person who believes that their cancer will go away if they just act like a healthy person… you might be acting the part on the outside, but the cancer is still eating you alive from within.
Overshadowing it with good works.
Some people are very aware of their sinfulness and therefore try to “do more good than bad.” They give to charity, volunteer for worthy causes, and tire themselves out with an agenda packed with admirable deeds. This is the spiritual equivalent of hospice – it takes away the sting of pain from knowing the guilt in your own heart… but the cancer has not been cured.
There are many so-called “cures” for this sin-sickness… but there is really is only one solution. It is available to you free of charge – but that doesn’t mean it came without cost. The price was incalculably high, but it has already been paid.
To be continued tomorrow…