Gospel of John #30 : John 4:49-54
Today we continue our bible study series with a healing story. (See the text, reproduced below, at the end of this post.) Here is a brief analysis of why self-worth and worthiness are essential to healing. In fact, what the New Testament calls “faith” can be equated, often, with our notion of worthiness, a worthiness to stand before God.
The opposite of such faith – or worthiness – is guilt. Guilt involves the expectation of punishment. One projects upon God an image of a wrathful persecutor, who would withhold the gift of life, love, and healing because of one’s wrong-doing.
Consider somebody you love. It is likely that your love is nourished by an assurance that with this person you are free to be yourself. If you hold yourself back because of guilt or shame about who you are, then you will block the love offered to you, inasmuch as you hold back your own fullest and most natural self-expression.
Worthiness, then–the conviction that you are good enough, indeed, to reveal who you are and to be loved for who you are–has a great deal to do with one’s capacity for love, both in receiving and giving.
One may glimpse this definition of faith, as a kind of worthiness, in the religious autobiography of Martin Luther, the religious reformer. In his early years, while undergoing grueling spiritual exercises as a Catholic monk (by fasting, prayer, and asceticism), Luther continued to feel hounded by guilt, low self-worth, and by the angry face of God. He commented, “When it is touched by this passing inundation of the eternal, the soul feels and drinks nothing but eternal punishment.” : Martin Luther Article
Later he realized that righteous and good people can never reach God by spiritual exercises on their own. Instead, faith is a gift from God, available to those of good and righteous intention. He commented, “Here I felt as if I were entirely born again and had entered paradise itself through the gates that had been flung open.”
My purpose is not to advance a Lutheran interpretation of this biblical passage. In our own day, the doctrine of “by faith alone” (sola fides) can sometimes be just as tormenting as religious exercises and penances had been in an earlier day. People may question themselves, “Am I REALLY full of faith? Do I really believe? Have I made the required confessions?” Such self-doubt – and quibbles – land us into at least a diluted form of guilt and unworthiness.
Instead, let’s try it this way. Unload anything from your conscience that you need to unload. Make amends. Forgive. Give love. Then reach up to the sky, and declare, “I am worthy of Life! I am worthy of Love. I am willing to receive!”
This receptivity to life, the divine life, heals.
50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way.
Question: Where can you open your heart a little more in order to receive and be worthy of all that Life has for you?
49 The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way. 51 As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was living. 52 So he asked them the hour when he began to mend, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live”; and he himself believed, and all his household. 54 This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.