A recent conference in Nashville on healing prayer was filled to capacity. People from Long Island, Dallas, Montana, and Alabama joined local Tennesseans to hear Judith MacNutt of Christian Healing Ministries declare, “we need a new model for ‘church’ that returns to ancient traditions.”
Although church has always been a place to socialize with new people and feel a sense of belonging, churches today are easily replaced by country clubs or “group meet-ups.” No matter what your “passion”, it is easy to connect through the internet with an event or group that shares your interests. Some churches compete as a form of entertainment with highly skilled and highly paid “praise bands” that are the main attraction. But in Nashville, can’t even better entertainment be seen at a local arena or club?
Evil has been with us since the early days of creation, but now the Evil One is everywhere; we even carry him with us in our pockets. With our cell phones we have instant access to videos showing bullying, Christians vividly being put to death, and governments negotiating to annihilate each other. If previous generations were able to wall themselves up and protect themselves from being exposed to evil, isolation is no longer possible. Evil is everywhere and ever-present causing us anxiety and fear.
In today’s world, we are all broken and sinners, but rather than continuing to practice the centuries-old approach of “sin management”, what if churches instead were centers of healing in our broken world? What if “church” was an oasis where the broken can come to be healed, and as we mend, we become the wounded healers to others? Isn’t that the unique aspect that “church” provides: a collective group that bands together to combat evil?
When I walked into my church in November 2007, I was active in my professional society and involved with non-profits as a community volunteer. In Nashville, I had plenty of options for entertainment with the music industry and creative arts. But in November 2007, I was also going through treatment for breast cancer and had just filed for a divorce. I didn’t need a new group of friends, an outlet to “serve others’, or a place to be entertained.
What I needed was a place where I could be healed.
Some theologians have suggested that Jesus Christ is like an old Emeritus professor at a university—he used to do great things, but now he has grown old and feeble and isn’t capable of performing miracles anymore. Or some think that healing miracles occurred only to prove that Jesus was the Messiah to the early Jews, and healing is no longer relevant today.
But Scripture proves these concepts wrong.
In Matthew 10:1, we hear, “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.”
In John 14:12-14, we hear, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
One of our clergy, the Rev. Tim Taylor sums it up beautifully when he says, “In the early days, it was all about following rules and laws and constantly failing. Nothing has changed in 2000 years in our humanness: we continue to fail every day. But it is only when we recognize that Christ was sent to redeem us from our brokenness that we can be fully alive and fully free. We are beloved children of God where love does not have to be earned; it is freely given. Once someone believes in their heart that Christ’s love is theirs, they start to travel down the “thank you path.” It is only the church where the broken can come to be mended, and then their love for others is communicated not because it is commanded, but instead so that they can travel down the “thank you path.” It takes others to demonstrate Christ’s love to us first.”
Is the model of the future church really that simple?
1. Recognition that the Evil One is everywhere in the world; we carry him in our pockets,
2. We are broken sinners who are anxious about everything and fearful of everyone. It is easy for the Evil One to sneak into our life. Our sleep is no longer restful as the Evil One taunts our waking and dreaming thoughts,
3. Although church provides an outlet for us to “be a good person” and find friends in a community, the unique aspect of “church” that no other group can supply is inner healing (emotional, spiritual and mental), and,
4. When we accept God’s love through Jesus Christ, serving others is no longer out of obligation or to keep up appearances. Instead, we become “on fire” in our desire to serve others as we travel along the “thank you” path. “Church” becomes the place where we can say our grateful thanks by passing along Christ’s love to others.
Where do you find lasting healing? Where do you go to serve, traveling along your “thank you” path?
If your answer to both questions isn’t your church, you need to find a church that has already adopted the “newer model” where your healing can occur, and you can heal others with your love as your “thank you.”
Blessings, my friend,