Monday, November 5, 2012

Nausea and Sin Go Together

Back in another lifetime I was a resident at Denver General Hospital, the main trauma center for the Denver metro area. I spent many a night in the emergency room reading x-rays and putting people back together again. There was the guy who had his face rearranged by a baseball bat. All he could say in broken English was “My name is Juan, and I’m from the East Side.” I didn’t even know Denver had an East Side. Then there was the guy from whose maxillary sinus we removed a bullet, along with the lateral wall of his sinus. His “accident” occurred outside a bar called “Taste Denver.” And there was also the guy on whom I extracted most of his lower front teeth, along with all of the surrounding bone. I had the luxury of working on him in a dental chair, which was a lot easier than trying to operate on a gurney. There were two downsides though, one, he kept bleeding onto the floor because I had nobody assisting me (guess who got to clean it up), and two, he was handcuffed to the chair. Good thing there wasn’t a fire.

What do this trio of “victims” have in common? In each case, they were drunk as well. Alcohol and accidents go together like Nike and running. It’s hard to get one without the other when you work at DG – especially on the weekends. (I’m not telling you this as an anti-alcohol rant – your Christian liberty certainly includes the luxury of an adult beverage.) For years, long after I’d left DG, whenever I’d get a whiff of alcohol I’d immediately feel slightly nauseous. The recurring experience of getting called to the ER in the middle of the night, working for 32 straight hours in a sleep-deprived state, and the constant flow of drunk accident victims reeking of alcohol and blood took its toll. It got to be repulsive after a while. This nauseous feeling is the same way we should feel when we sin.

The prophet Isaiah saw the Lord in His temple and exclaimed "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips…” (Isaiah 6:5). He knew he was a sinner, and that the Lord cannot tolerate sin. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:29, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.” Dr. Martin Luther advises:
We should actually fear that we have sinned where we have not sinned, and we should be perfected by a hatred of sin and a love of God so great that we fear the sins which we commit unconsciously, nay, that we fear as sin what is not sin. (What Luther Says; §4208, 1310-11.)
Sin separates us from God. Isaiah warns the Israelites:
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness (Isaiah 59:2-3 ESV).
The whole world is defiled by blood. Yet God, in what seems to the world to be the most preposterous and ironic way, cleanses us with blood, the blood of His Son shed on the cross. What repulses also saves those who trust in Him.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
Luther explains it well:
The Law lays my sins on me, but God takes them from me and lays them on this Lamb. There they lie well, better than on me. And God means to say: I see that sin weighs heavily on you and that you would have to break down under the heavy burden; but I will relieve you of it, take the sin from your back… and out of pure grace lay it on the shoulders of this Lamb…. Let this picture be precious to you. It makes Christ a Servant of sins, yea, a Bearer of sins, the lowliest, the most despised of men, who Himself destroys all sin and says: I am come to serve others, not to let Myself be served (Matt. 20:28). (What Luther Says; §4225, 1315.)
Our sin should repulse us like the comingling of blood and alcohol that once repulsed me. Yet  we can rejoice. Christ died for us, for you – the righteous for the unrighteous, and our sin is made white as snow by the blood of the Lamb.

photo credit: mharrsch


roger said...

So before you were a pilot you were a doctor?

Scott Diekmann said...

I'm also a dentist Roger. I retired from dentistry so I could fly for a living. Good thing Luther isn't around - he probably would have counseled against it! But then again he never got to fly.

Derek Johnson said...

That's pretty incredible.

Lisa Graas said...

Blessings. I linked you here.