Friday, July 27, 2012

I’ve Fallen and I Can't Get Up!

I’ve Fallen and I Can't Get Up!

In the late 80 and early 90’s there was a company called LifeCall with a system in which subscribers, mostly senior citizens as well as the disabled, would receive a pendant which, when activated, would allow the user to speak into to an audio receiving device and talk directly with a dispatch service, without the need to reach a telephone.  The dispatcher would then send help.  In 1989, LifeCall began running commercials which contained a scene wherein an elderly woman, identified by a dispatcher as "Mrs. Fletcher", uses the medical alert pendant after having fallen in the bathroom. After falling, Mrs. Fletcher speaks the phrase "I've fallen, and I can't get up!” after which the dispatcher informs her that he is sending help. Many of you will remember that phrase.  While the phrase was subject of much humor, when we take the commercial at its face value, it portrays a dangerous situation for a senior, with perhaps dire consequences: an elderly person suddenly incapacitated at home, unable to get help, perhaps for hours or even days.
Spiritually we are all Mrs. Fletcher’s, we are fallen in Sin and cannot get up from it by ourselves.   God, in this scenario, is LifeCall.  We can call on Him.  He will dispatch “someone” to help us up. According to the teacher’s section of our lesson this process of getting us up is strongly related to Grace.  The word grace, as used in the Bible, which is how Paul understood it, originated from a Hebrew verb that literally means “to bend down.” It conveys the idea of a person bending over to help someone stand up who has fallen and cannot help himself. From this concept, the word grace came to mean the act of extending favor or kindness to another person and often someone who did not deserve it. In the Old Testament, as in Paul’s letters, God is the One who is typically described as extending grace.

At face value we see the act of kindness and think, “that was a nice thing that person did.”  We focus on the compassion.  So, to us it becomes mercy.  But we ignore the act itself, and the person receiving the help.   What did the person do? The person that helped the other get up gave the fallen person what they needed to get up.  Think about it, the fallen person asked for help because they could not get up.  The person helping gave the person what they needed to do it.  This is a result of grace.  When person A is moved with compassion, person A gives to person B what person B lack to complete the task, whether they deserve it or not.  Person A gave person B the power to complete the task.

The closest story I can remember in the Bible of someone falling is when Peter sank in the water.  He saw Jesus walking on water and asked Jesus,

Matthew 14:28 …. Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
Matthew 14:29 And He said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
Matthew 14:30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
Matthew 14:31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

Peter recognized his need, immediately asked for help. Thus, when the Lord extended forth His hand to catch Peter, the Lord had compassion on Peter, and gave to Peter what Peter lacked to get to not sink in the water.  Peter allowed the Lord to pull Him up.  Peter received the grace.   Now, this is just a metaphor of our lives.  We are all in the water of life sinking trying to stay afloat the best we can.   God has compassion on us, and sends us His Son – our Spiritual life guard to rescue us.  We here the call, “You are sinking or about to sink, but I can save you, let me grab you to take you out.”  Will we let Him?  We are all fallen in Sin, and it does not matter how hard we try, we will never be able to get out of it.  We are born in Sin and conceived in I iniquity.  We had neither say over nor choice over that.  The Thessalonians heard this warning, and the good news.  They realized their true condition and that there was nothing they could do to fix it, so they trusted God to do it. 

You see, our biggest problem is not that we are fallen.  Our biggest problem is that we are in denial about it.  Although God did execute Judgment on many idol worshipping nation, His greatest rebuke was to Israel and Judah because they followed after the pagan worship.  Christ greatest rebukes were to the Jews, and most of His commendations were to the faith exercising Gentiles.  And, we are following in the same footsteps of Israel and Judah.  This is why God is so disgusted with us.  God describes us in Revelation 3,

Revelation 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
Revelation 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

God gives us through grace, what we lack, to bring us back to Him.  He longs for our response.  Yet, we tell Him, “I have need of nothing,” while lying on the floor or sinking in the water.  Christ told Nicodemus that, “… this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:19). Our greatest problem is that we reject God’s grace.  We refuse to let Him get us up.