Why Duct Tape Isn’t a Surgical Tool

A heart patient lies on the operating table, chest shaved and dabbed with Mercurochrome, tubes protruding, machines humming. A donor across country has provided a heart for transplant, and the medic delivers the vital organ in a nondescript cooler.

Medical personnel hastily prep the organ and make final adjustments to ready the patient for surgery.

Suddenly the patient’s eyes open wide, and he shouts “No! You cannot have my heart. I will not take someone else’s!” And gives his own orders to the doctors.

Despite their best efforts, doctors are unable to persuade the patient that getting rid of his old heart and receiving a new one are in his best interest, and in fact, is the only thing that could save him. Knowing that the donor’s heart can’t be used elsewhere, and giving in to the patient’s irrational demands, the doctors place the heart on the patient’s chest, and affix it with duct tape.

You know what the outcome of that imaginary “surgery” would be: a useless heart and a dead patient.

Yet that is how many of us view our relationship to the Word of God: it may be necessary for my life, but I keep it far enough away that it won’t do anything for me.

James, in his letter, tells us that we must “receive with meekness the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). Like the imminently-dead heart patient, we are in dire need of the Word. But it isn’t effective from a distance. And we aren’t ready without pain. Our chest needs to be cracked open. Bones need to be broken. The old heart, despite its protestations, must be cut away from each artery and severed from connecting tissue. The new, “implanted” heart, must be placed rightly and connected deftly. It must be the new central organ, delivering the blood that is so desperately needed by every part of the body.

The patient must die before he lives.

There is no place for pride, or self-healing, or self-speaking in salvation. Everything comes from outside, from above, from God, “in whom there is no variation of shifting shadow” (James 1:17). And everything necessary for salvation must penetrate, invade, and “implant,” taking over and filling in what was formerly dead and rotted tissue.

Examine today your attitude toward the Word of God.

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