2016-08-30 - What People Say ~ Living Rightly
And What the Bible Says About It
This series will be based on comments that are said by usually well-meaning people, to those who are struggling with a serious difficulty. Some of the comments, we have heard ourselves; others were spoken to family members, friends, or colleagues.
This week, we will think about a statement that Richard and I heard about a month after he was released from the hospital. Because of Richard's paralysis, there was a lot of medical equipment in our home at that time - Hoyer lift, wheelchair, hospital bed with Richard in it etc.. That could be intimidating, so when someone new would come into the house, I would try to set their minds at ease, that his condition wasn't contagious. One man unthinkingly (apparently) said "Oh I don't worry about that. God will protect me from things like that, because I live right (sic)."
Putting aside the rudeness of making such an insulting and presumptuous comment (probably inadvertently) to a paralyzed person, there is some bad theology lurking there. It would be very nice if "living rightly" protected us from having evil befall us. Unfortunately, it does not. By all accounts, Richard is known as someone who lives rightly. Loving family man, dedicated church worker who was spending about 20+ hours a week on church work, the person who at work retirement was given the same accolade over and over: "Always did the right thing." Yet he ended up with a debilitating illness. We are very thankful for its temporary nature, but it's been a rough journey, of which paramedics, doctors and others warned us.They were right; we are about 80% toward the finish line, and it has been a bear. This had nothing to do with "living rightly," and you have to look no farther than the Bible, to realize this.
In the first place, throughout the Bible, we are provided examples with the suffering of God's obedient servants. To name a few:
In addition, Christ Himself did not tell us that we could get out of suffering, for good behavior; in fact, as recorded in John 16:33, Christ actually told us to expect suffering, or as the Living Bible puts it, "many trials and sorrows."
Equating the avoidance of suffering with "living rightly" doesn't help anyone, and promotes false theology. I doubt many, if any of you would say such a thing, but if anyone says it to you, I hope that you will at least realize that they are totally off-track.
Next week, we'll look at a comment said to a friend of ours who is also paralyzed. "You need to smile more."
Janice P. Moser
All scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.