Have you been to the dentist lately? While some people are fine with dental visits, for others of us there is nothing worse than having a partially-masked person prodding and poking around in our mouths while we are somewhat helpless reclined. To magnify the horror, he or she may announce that he or she needs to do some filling which involves drilling. Isn’t that the kind of thing construction workers do? To go to the dentist for one thing, only to have him or her find it necessary to do other things for the benefit of our health, oral and otherwise, is not unusual. We just do not like it. And for that reason, even if we are having dental issues, we delay going unless we absolutely have to. I have been there.
In a sense, going to the dentist is not unlike coming to Jesus. Some of us are fine with coming to Him and having Him do what is necessary for our spiritual health, even if it causes us some personal discomfort. We trust Him that He knows what He is doing along with what is best for us. For others, if He would just take care of the one or two problems we consider important, we would be fine. We do not need Him to go prodding and poking in places we did not send Him and to be working on things we would rather He leaves alone. However, we are aware that like the dentist, Christ sees more than we do. After all, He is a specialist in matters of the heart and sometimes what we think is the problem is not the problem at all. Fixing the symptoms does not take care of the cause. A toothache may require an extraction; bleeding gums may require drastic intervention to correct. It may be necessary for the dentist to do some fillings, yes drilling and all, to prevent additional problems later. We cannot see what is required; we only know what we feel, think, and want. In response to pain, we want relief. We are not necessarily concerned in the moment with what is causing the pain.
One of the profound truths that Jesus taught was, “It is not what goes into the mouth of a man that defiles and dishonors him, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles and dishonors him” (Matthew 15:11, AMP). To the religious leaders of the day, He said, “You brood of vipers, how can you speak good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Matthew 12:34). Scripture teaches, “The heart is deceitful above all things and it is extremely sick; who can understand it fully and know its secret motives?” (Jeremiah 17:9). All our problems stem from the heart. To that end, Jesus is not interested in fixing any one particular problem which is really a symptom. He desires to change the heart, the root of the issue, to meet the standards of the Father who desires that we become conformed to the image of His son (Romans 8:28-29). If we can get our hearts right, our thoughts, words, and actions will be rightly aligned with the will of God.
In the same way that avoiding the dentist does not make the problem go away, neither does avoiding Christ. Yes, He will do more than we bargained for and the process may be uncomfortable. However, when He is through with us we will be much better individuals for the experience. At least that is what He promised; just like the dentist. Now, have you been to Jesus for a checkup lately?