Why Emphasize Healing?

Christ healing peters mother in law

Healing isn’t the gospel, but the gospel isn’t the gospel without healing. The Apostolic message has been, since the beginning, that Christ is risen and that the Presence of the Holy Spirit is proof. Of the messages recorded for us, of the teachings included in the narratives, of the epistolary literature we have, there is scant few didactic statements regarding healing. Healing is almost always contained within the construct of a narrative: included in an imperative from Christ, requested from someone in need, or simply recorded as part of the normal exercise of kingdom commission. It’s consistently part of the story, but rarely the content of the message. And yet we do, we should, we must emphasize healing as part of the ministry of the gospel. Why? A reasonable, quickly-read apologetic follows:

We emphasize healing:

  • Because healing is an essential expression of Christ. “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power and He went about doing good and healing all who were under the devil’s tyranny” (Acts 10:38). This was Peter’s one-sentence summary of the life and ministry of Jesus. It isn’t possible to adequately, accurately, express Christ without a profound emphasis on healing – for Jesus was (and is) a profound healer. If we are to be any sort of authentic expression of Christ in our community, we must emphasize Christ the healer.
  • Because compassion is our commission: Each of the four gospels record one or more instances of Jesus sending out his followers to continue His work. For example, Matthew 4 and 9 both record, in the same words, the ministry of Jesus as going about “healing every sickness and every disease” (see 4:23 and 9:35). And when Jesus sends out his followers, he commissions them to continue His work, exactly (compare 10:1 – they were to do the same thing Jesus had been doing). When you consider this passage with Luke 9, Luke 10, Mark 16, and John 20 (as the Father has sent me, so I am sending you) – it is clear that the compassion that Jesus exercised is the commission that Jesus expects.
  • Because if we don’t emphasize healing, sickness will emphasize itself. Sickness is a bully. It barges in. It takes over. It talks over. It interrupts. It’s stubborn. It’s rude. It shows up un announced, unwanted, and unwelcomed. It just keeps showing up. It shows up in the homes of the wealthy and the needy. It torments the kind and the cruel. It emphasizes itself in families, communities, epidemics, the elderly, the young, and everywhere. It is relentless. It doesn’t matter if you always wash your hands and only eat carrots. Sickness will seek a way into your life (it doesn’t have a right to, and it doesn’t have to, but it will try). Therefore, we emphasize healing like we’d emphasize a dam when facing a flood. We emphasize healing like we emphasize light when surrounded by darkness. We emphasize healing because sickness is a co-dependent drama-queen who never stops calling attention to itself. We emphasize healing because sickness doesn’t deserve the attention it demands. People aren’t diseases. People aren’t disabilities. People aren’t defined by their pain, their challenge, or their need. Healing reminds us that people are defined by their hope, their calling, their identity, and their destiny.
  • Because the gravity of decay is constant. To overcome or resist gravity, it requires quite a bit of thrust. The g-force felt by lift-off is gravity’s protest of your defiance. And the decay of sin: darkness, disease, despair… is a gravitational constant. Without resistance it would pull us in and down. Therefore, we rejoice by faith; we hope; we love; we persevere; and we keep emphasizing healing.
  • Because our ability to adapt may be one of our greatest assets, but it’s also an Achilles Heel. Adaptation is key to survival. We adapt to changes in climate, in circumstance, and routines. We adapt. It keeps us from going crazy or dropping dead. It also enables us to adjust, little by little, to the encroachment of sickness. It enables us to choose a path of lesser resistance, to cope, to accommodate, to adapt. Adaptation enables us to make room for the bully of disease in our lives, homes, churches and communities. We’re so good at adaptation that we are able to often and quickly redefine a new normal. But healing isn’t an adaptation to disease. Healing is a refutation. Healing is an insistence that we will draw a line, “this far, and no further.”
  • Because we have real hope. Healing is a claim laid on the hope we have in Christ for today and for the future. We emphasize healing even in, and perhaps especially in, the face of delay or defeat. Disease does not have the final word, because not even death does. If death has lost its victory, then disease has certainly lost its bragging rights. Healing, as an in-breaking of the power of the world to come, is a reminder of the hope we yet have for eternity.
  • Because Jesus paid for it. There was real purpose in the stripes on His back. There was real payment in the broken body of Jesus. Jesus deserves to get what He paid for.
  • Because healing remains one of humanity’s greatest needs, one of Scripture’s greatest promises, and one of the greatest expressions of the Gospel. We emphasize healing because we need to. We will emphasize healing as long as hope allows. We will emphasize healing until we no longer have any need of it, until there is no more crying and no more tears. Until we are all healed, forever.

Amen.

Thanks for reading. If you need healing, I welcome the opportunity to pray with you. Use the comment section below, and let me know.

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,

‘Dav

 

Pushing a Rock Up a Hill

boulder

Most of the time I feel like I am pushing a rock up a hill.

I am never not aware of the rock. I feel its weight. I cannot let go of the rock. I am responsible to make sure it keeps moving up the hill; I can’t let it roll back down. Every other activity must be done while holding the rock. I eat with the rock on my back. I sleep wedged beneath the rock, with rock-moving strategies and hopes for progress squeezing my dreams. Don’t get me wrong; almost all the time I love the rock, and even more I love making the rock move forward. I just know that I have to push the rock. I don’t feel like I have a choice. I just have to push the rock.

Sometimes I leave the rock with capable hands while I go encourage other rock-pushers, and maybe help them push their rocks through a tough spot.

I do have people with me pushing the rock. I love it when people push on the rock. I can use all the help I can get!

Some people help better than others.

Some people come and help me push the rock like it was their own rock. It really feels like it’s “our rock” and “we” are pushing. This really makes rock-pushing fun. Some people have worn grooves in the rock from pushing so well, for so long. I love rock-pushers, because no matter what, I have to push the rock.

Some people who come to help push the rock like to talk about how maybe the rock should be a different color, or maybe the rock could use some sanding here and there, or maybe they don’t like calling it a rock. “Is it possible to change rocks?” Whatever, just push the rock.

Some people will walk beside me, getting really close to me, and almost touching the rock. They’ll quietly tell me how I might make some changes in how I am pushing the rock. They may regale me with tales of rocks they’ve moved (well, at least they touched some cool rocks). They don’t break a sweat, but they occasionally have to take breaks from not pushing the rock. Often, they wander off, shaking their heads over how poorly I seem to pushing the rock. Regardless, I keep pushing the rock.

Some people come and ask to help push the rock. Sure! Push! But they’d prefer a certain spot to push…no, not there. Maybe there…well, not really there. “I’m not really being used very well at pushing the rock.” Really? Just push the rock.

Every once in a while someone will be upset that I am pushing the rock. Yes. That I am pushing the rock. I mean that I don’t know why they’re upset, because I am just pushing this rock. But somehow I’ve let them down, haven’t pushed well enough, or even that I am pushing too much. Maybe I haven’t let them have control of the rock? Control the rock? I don’t own the rock. I am just pushing this rock up a hill. But in response to my rock-pushing, they stop helping push the rock. Sometimes others stop with them.  I pause to catch a breath after they stop pushing, get a fresh footing, and then I keep pushing the rock. It’s a little heavier than before. But I keep pushing the rock.

I keep studying rock-pushing. I keep learning. I am inspired by the rock-pushers who have moved rocks before me. I can see the trails left by their rock-pushing. Many have made my way easier. Their example compels me. I want to leave a trail for other rock-pushers to follow.  I keep pushing the rock.

I sometimes wonder if I will ever push my rock as well as others. It seems like some rock-pushers sail past me. Others, too many others, I have seen lose traction, focus, or grip and roll back down the hill with their rocks. Rock-pushing can be dangerous. But I just keep pushing the rock.

Because at the end of the day, and at the beginning of the day, and in fact all day long every day, I am pushing a rock up a hill.

Arrogant Spirituality and Other Oxymorons

arrogant-boss

In the New Living Version, Proverbs 21:4 reads, “Haughty eyes, a proud heart, and evil actions are all sin.”  Of note is that the scribe equates haughty eyes and a proud heart with evil. While this warning seems fairly clear from scripture, I am often struck by how easily people veil their arrogance with a cloak of spirituality.

It is not uncommon to hear someone imply, via criticism, that they are more spiritually aware, mature, sensitive, or otherwise superior. They know what the Holy Spirit would prefer to occur in a given meeting (although they’ve not spent the last week laboring in prayer and preparation for the gathering). They are acutely aware of how displeased God is with an event, song, statement or idea – and uniquely so, because they are the only individuals so enlightened – until, of course, they inform several others how displeased God is. They boldly defy the reasonable expectations and requests of leadership because they must obey God and not man (this means they must interrupt a service, must speak their mind, must act out of order, must be heard or seen… because God insists on it).

I observe this type of arrogant spirituality across the board – it is not the exclusive practice of one sub-culture. There exists the church leadership culture that is too sophisticated for tongues or prophecy, and too enlightened for such barbaric practices as healing or deliverance. In contrast are the groups that view themselves as a form of the spiritually elite, carrying the deepest and most profound and quite recent revelation from heaven – or the third heaven or fourth or seventh or whatever. It pains me in ways that mix nausea with embarrassment when I hear speech or see social media that asserts superiority, self-righteousness and outright arrogance. No such boasting is the voice of the Holy Spirit, but a different spirit altogether. The voice of the accuser isn’t just shame; he’s just as happy to flood our souls with feelings of superiority.

It is grieving to witness some who seem to believe they possess the parameters of knowledge to such a degree that they can (and do) answer every question, confront every heresy, and settle any argument. It is embarrassing to behold when one’s arrogance is only surpassed by their ignorance – when they distort and proof-text their opinion with a flawed premise and consequent flawed conclusion.

It’s not enough for the arrogant to disagree with you (that is their right), they also must inform you of their disagreement and where, how, and why you are wrong. This might be the thing I least understand. I don’t agree with everyone. There are some with whom I agree very little. But rarely, if ever, am I compelled to tell someone why I think they are wrong and I (clearly) am right. I can get along with you for a long way even if we don’t agree. I don’t need you to agree with me for me to love you and be kind to you and encourage you and enjoy your company. Unless it falls under my responsibility to protect those under my care, I really don’t need to discuss why you are (clearly) wrong. And no matter what, I am going to treat you with honor.

Personally, the most significant wounds I have incurred in ministry have been from those who have presented themselves not as enemies, but as benevolent “better-thans:” those who have come into my life, weighed and measured me, and found me lacking. Their complaint is usually opaque; it’s more a general feeling without specific infraction. I just don’t measure up to their degree of spirituality (interestingly enough I am usually too crazy or too conservative).

The problem with arrogant spirituality is just that: it is arrogant; it is condescending. It has no kinship with honor or humility. Condescension is not wisdom. Arrogance is not insight.  They are ugly and odoriferous both.

Further, arrogant spirituality is like the skunk which the bear must carefully consider swatting. He could swat it, but the resulting stink may not be worth the effort. When the impression is given that one is more spiritual, more aware, more discerning, more enlightened, or more sophisticated, it allows only a handful of responses: I can believe you and therefore submit to your superiority, or I can ignore you and thereby likely empower your arrogance by my acquiescence, or I can confront you (in the best way I know how) and risk the wrath of an offended spiritual giant who may act more like a toddler refused his toy. At the very minimum, the arrogant will be “hurt” by correction and refuse to accept any form thereof.

Basically, I am “done” with such arrogance. My being done with it will have no real impact on its ongoing activity.Nor will my assertion of “done” prevent further hurt inflicted by the arrogant. But I will do my best to keep my eyes on real spirituality. Spirituality should bear the character and nature of the very Spirit we claim to represent. One of the critical ways we do this is by doing “nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility [we should] value others above yourselves” (Phil 2:3). Did you see that? Real spirituality values, treats, considers others as if they were above us, not below us. Just as arrogant spirituality is an oxymoron, humble spirituality is redundant. To be spiritual is to be humble, honorable, and to treat people, even those with you whom deeply disagree, with profound respect.

Our genuine encounter with, revelation and illumination from, and ongoing influence of the Holy Spirit must absolutely produce in us a humility and kindness that is only surpassed by unfailing love and unyielding joy.

“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:17-18).

Thanks for reading,

‘Dav

 

Seven Reasons to Invite Someone To Church This (every) Weekend

casual hands shaking

What if we sought to cultivate a habit, perhaps already present for some but maybe new for others, of inviting someone to church every weekend? No pressure; no gags; no gimmicks; just a happy and sincere invitation: “would you come to church with me this weekend?”

I hope to encourage many in our home church to embrace this habit, and maybe a few others, too. And there are at least 7 good reasons why.

First of all, inviting people to church who currently do not have a home church significantly increases the probability of them hearing the gospel, which in turn significantly increases the probability of them believing said gospel. This is a two-fer: two good reasons summed in one.

Secondly, when you invite someone to church, it will likely increase your propensity to pray for them, pray for your church, pray for the actual gathering to which you are inviting them, and even pray for “me” (Lord, help the pastor to say something that somehow connects with my friend/family/neighbor/colleague). This, too, is a multi-faceted benefit, as is usually the case when we pray.

Next, when you bring someone to church with you, it increases your sensitivity to and awareness of the environment. You are desperate for the other people at church to appear friendly and warm and genuine (and maybe not unnecessarily weird). You yourself might sport a metaphorical “hey I am happy you’re here and care about you” button. This, often, in contrast to when we come guest-less to church with the temptation to just slink in and keep to ourselves (often too distracted by the eclipsing importance of what irritated us on the way to church or what we want to eat afterward – and “why is this church coffee so bad”). Furthermore, you might well pay more attention to the appearance of the facility, the need for improved sound equipment, and for pens in the back of the chairs that actually work. Who knows, you might even become aware of how important the hospitality crew is, finding yourself volunteering to serve on those front lines.

Inviting people to church has an ego-involvement benefit. By that I mean that when you invite people to church, it becomes “your” church. You are a greater stakeholder than when you remain simply a visitor emeritus.

The general likelihood of your church (and hopefully my home church) continuing to grow numerically is increased in direct proportion to… new people coming there. So, inviting people to church regularly is a really terrific way of causing your church to grow. Luke 14:23 hints pretty strongly that our Lord is a fan of His House being full.

Many Christians can trace their family’s faith to the salvation of a parent or grandparent. Others encountered Christ as a child or teenager – because somehow someone brought them to church. What I am saying is that inviting one person to church might impact the destiny of generations. Whole families might well be saved. Marriages can be restored. Children can hear of hope and promise. Teens can learn security and integrity and purpose. A man (a godly prayer warrior, helper of the hurting and servant of children) in my church is the great-great (maybe another “great” I can’t remember) grandson of General William Booth of the Salvation Army. Consider what generational avalanche might occur if we invite people to church – this weekend.

Finally, if we make a habit of inviting people to church, for all the above reasons and more, we will change the world. So, essentially, the fate of the world really hangs on you inviting someone to church this weekend. (Too much? Well, you get the idea anyway).

Thanks for reading.

~ Dav