This Lenten season, our sermon series guides us through an introspective time using the lens of Rehab. Following scriptures from the Revised Common Lectionary, each week brings us into explorations of: wilderness, intervention, program, recovery, and promise.

As we have continued on this journey through the lens of Rehab, I have had conversation with some members and participants who have asked important questions about whether or not this lens applies to their own lives. In response to these questions, I submit that we are all on a road of rehab, we are all on a road of recovery. Most of us will acknowledge that we have fallen short of the good to which we are called. Most of us will acknowledge that we are imperfect humans. If we are willing to acknowledge these things, then perhaps we might confess that we are in need of rehab. And in doing so, we are on the road to recovery.

Some Christians will suggest that our imperfection stems from the theology of “original sin.” To be frank, I struggle with this concept for a number of thoughtful reasons. With that said, I agree that we have fallen short of the image of God in which we have been created. Understanding this, we may consider the importance of working to recover God’s image, and in doing so we naturally and necessarily turn ourselves toward God who we can see in Jesus Christ.

John 3:14-21 (CEB)
14“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so must the Human One be lifted up 15so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. 16God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. 17God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18Whoever believes in him isn’t judged; whoever doesn’t believe in him is already judged, because they don’t believe in the name of God’s only Son.

19“This is the basis for judgment: The light came into the world, and people loved darkness more than the light, for their actions are evil. 20All who do wicked things hate the light and don’t come to the light for fear that their actions will be exposed to the light. 21Whoever does the truth comes to the light so that it can be seen that their actions were done in God.”

Consider these questions:

  1. These verses – and especially verse 16 – may be the most recognizable verses in the Christian Bible. What does this text say to you about recovery?
  2. How does thinking that we can “do it ourselves” mess us up?
  3. How does turning toward God lead to recovery?

Post-Sermon Follow Up on 3/13

Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found at this link (will open in a new tab).

Sunday’s sermon highlights the importance of context, of perspective. We must understand the context in which Jesus is speaking. We must understand who his audience is and how they would receive and understand Jesus’ words. We must understand the cultural references made. And if we do these things and we are open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we may more fully understand how this text continues to have power and bring hope to us today. When we understand a broader context of Jesus’ message, we can more clearly understand how this message fits into our own context.

If we can contextually see that Jesus is illustrating himself as healer and that his gift of healing is available to all who look toward the light, then we might even acknowledge that we – individually, personally, vulnerably – can experience this healing power. We might understand more fully that we are not defined by our faults and our weaknesses. As we journey on in recovery and healing, as we turn more completely to the light, we return ourselves to the image of God in which we have been created.

Consider these questions:

  1. Rehab is not always a neat and easy path. Failures, setbacks, and new obstacles often appear. How do you persevere when recovery seems far away?
  2. How do you define recovery? How do you define salvation? How do you understand Christian perfection? Are these things achievable?
  3. Where do you see hope in this text (and/or in Jesus’ message to Nicodemus)?