When I was in my mid 20’s, I began to feel a sharp pain in the abdomen. I procrastinated a few years, but it got progressively worse until I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I decided I better see a physician before the pain became unbearable.
After the examination, the doctor informed me that I had a hernia and that it would require surgery. He assured me that it was an easy procedure; he would cut a tiny 1″ incision on my abdomen and then go in and correct the problem. I should be back at work in a week. It all sounded good so we set the date for the operation.
When I woke up from surgery, I knew immediately that something was wrong. I looked down at my stomach to check the damage and saw a 5″ line of stitches. Yikes! I knew I wouldn’t be back at work in a week.
That was a depressing moment for me. I recovered, though it took a little longer than planned. As much as I dread doctors, I know where to go and who to trust when my body needs repair.
C. S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors. In “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” from “The Chronicles of Narnia,” there is a character named Eustace who becomes a dragon because of his greed. In order to be set free, he must have the dragon skin peeled away from his body. He tries to do it himself, only to find another layer of dragon skin. In his own strength, he is unable to perform the necessary operation; he needs the help of Aslan, a lion who represents Jesus in the novel. Aslan cuts deep through the thick dragon skin with his claws. It is a very painful experience for Eustace but imperative for his restoration.
Matthew 9:12-13 –NIV
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The Pharisees didn’t recognize their need for Jesus; they were well versed in the law and the traditions. They didn’t need him to teach them how to live. They were steeped in their own self-righteousness; in their minds, they obeyed the letter of the law. But they missed the spirit of the law; they had no mercy for anyone who didn’t live according to their standards.
There is a danger for all Christians: we can grow layers of thick skin. We can become hardened to people outside our immediate circle of friends, people who don’t share our political views or theological views. We become proud of our particular way of thinking and a superiority complex ensues. If we don’t remind ourselves daily that we are still rotten to the core, we can become like the Pharisees. We all need an Aslan to peel away the layers of dragon skin that have encased us. We need Jesus to free us from the sin of self-righteousness.
I raise the mug today in honor of physicians and to the Great Physician who can peel away the thick dragon layers and give us a fresh skin in which to live!