It may comfort some of you to know that I am certified in both First Aid and CPR. So if any of you were to collapse during a church event, and a doctor were not present, I would be ready and able to (1) survey the scene for safety, (2) check for signs of life, (3) have someone call 911, and (4) begin CPR, treatment for shock, heat or cold injuries, choking, etc… This year for the first time my training included the use of AEDs – Automatic External Defibrillators. In undergoing the training to use this amazing appliance, I was struck by how similar its function is to that of the Bible. Let me explain…
When you have a cardiac arrest, it means that at least a part of your heart has ceased making its necessary contractions and is instead “fibrillating” – pointlessly quivering instead of steadily pumping. As a result, blood is not being moved to either re-oxygenate or supply your body with the oxygen and nutrients you need to live. This is where the “defibrillation” comes in. The Automatic External Defibrillator, in order to correct the potentially fatal problem caused by pointless, useless quivering, literally stops your heart. Completely. All parts of your heart stop. And then, according to God’s wondrous design, your sinoatrial node restarts your heart’s rhythm – and the once quivering muscle is restored and that great lub-dubbing rhythm of life resumes.
In Ephesians 4:20-24 we are given a broad overview of what the gospel teaches us about the Christian life. We were taught, Paul writes,
“to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
See the similarity? Something must be put off and we must be made new in order for us to function in accordance with our original design. A few verses later, Paul gives us an example: “Stop stealing” and replace that useless quivering with the steady beat of work that enables you to share. Later, “Get rid of” bitterness and instead be compassionate. This is described by Peter as “dying to sins, and living for righteousness.” (1 Peter 2:24). Isn’t this what the Bible calls us to?
Throughout the word of God we are called to stop, put off, mortify, die to self and to our old patterns and rhythms of life and to start, put on, LIVE for God. We cannot start a spiritually healthy heartbeat without first stopping our fibrillating. And just as an AED contravenes a quivering heart physically, the Bible interrupts a faltering heart spiritually. Do you read your Bible that way? Do you hear it saying “Stop!” so that you can start afresh? Do you hear it saying “Put down!” so that you can be given something better? Those are messages God gives us in scripture. And they are invitations to a better life than we could hope for- they are invitations to experience the true righteousness and holiness we were designed for.