When Telling a Paraplegic To Run Isn’t Cruel

Posted: March 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

Now that title immediately raises your eyebrows. Could you actually conceive of a situation when telling a person who can’t feel the lower half of their body to run is not cruel? Well, yes, I can. Imagine a situation when someone has been paralyzed from the waist down and yet they refuse to admit that they cannot walk or run. They are adamant that they are not paralyzed. They are obstinate and refuse to accept the diagnosis. And yet, for their good, they must be brought to see the reality. They need to feel the gravity of the situation so that they can be helped. They need to know that life will be different for them, that things will have to change. So what can you do to prove the reality of the paralysis? Tell them to run.

I think this example illustrates at least one way the Mosaic Law functions in our lives. Before we are brought to life by God (Eph 2:5), we are dead in our sins and unable to come to him (Eph 2:1). There is nothing good that resides within us (Rom 7:18). When it comes to our spiritual state, we are unable to move towards God (I know the analogy breaks down; the paraplegic wants to move but can’t. The unregenerate person doesn’t want to come to God). We need to feel the seriousness of our condition. And this is what the law does! It calls all people to live a certain way. It calls us to action. But it doesn’t give us the power to obey. So in Romans 7:13 Paul tells the reader that it was the law that showed sin to be sin. That is, with the giving of the law comes the knowledge that one cannot keep the law. It is when one is commanded to love God with all their heart and soul that they see their inability to do so. Thus, the commands, the law, stops our mouths because it proves we are unable to obey. And because we are unable to obey, we are also proven guilty of disobedience.

So, when you tell a hard-headed paraplegic to run because he or she won’t admit their condition, you are not being cruel. And when God calls depraved sinners to do what they are unable to do, he is not being cruel. Instead, the call to action is the very thing needed to awaken the sinner, and paraplegic, to their need for help.

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