Sacrifice only the best of the best. Cleanse and cleanse again. Offer and offer again. Achieve order out of chaos. Find knowledge in place of guesswork. Achieve a healthy mind, body and soul – fit for a king – fit for a god – for One God – for the Chosen People of One God.
Healing. Making people perfect again. Perfect enough for what … ? For God … ?
Jesus is always healing. And today we see that in dramatic “wow” ways by a select few “healers”. I have also read that some think the “miracle days” are past – that those days stopped at some pre-determined point.
Then this morning He just plopped “Forgiveness of sins” in my head. And this.
That back in the day illness, affliction, disability – all the imperfections of mind and body – were retribution for something sinful, law breaking, God disappointing, and stuff like that. That through your affliction was manifested some “payback” – of your own, or a family member, or previous generation family member’s straying from the straight and narrow.
Jesus is always healing. But what came first: forgiving their sins or healing their bodies and minds?
“He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.” Matthew 6:17-19
And without even a “hello”, or “are you sitting comfortably” … we talked.
“Forget the disciple picking, Paul. Forget the me “praying an all-nighter” (wow – EVEN Jesus prays???). Loads of imagery there. Done to death over the years. Healing and/or Forgiving Sins? Back then it was not one or the other – back then it was both. That IS healing.
Imagine that today: removing stigma and isolation, bringing inclusion, changing lives not “just” by removing disability – but changing lives by making each whole again – whole and clean and the best of the best. Good enough for One God – good enough to be one of the Chosen People (maybe for the first time). Imagine that – going before the religious and cultural powers that be – presenting oneself – being accepted as good enough – being allowed to be part of “us” again. Not just physically and mentally okay (thanks be to God) – but the best of the best – cleansed and cleansed again – offering and offering again – a healthy mind, body AND soul.
Today you have medicine, science, drugs, surgery, rehabilitation, nurses, doctors, hospitals, pharmacies … You have physios, therapists, counsellors, advocates, specialists … Your body and mind is cared for like never before. But …
Inclusion? Membership? Each being as sacred as each? I don’t see that. Your “healing” still excludes. Your medicine is for those who have already. Your health service is “haves and have nots”. And your healing is ONLY of the body and mind (and even then, only if …). You have separated me from all of that – just as you separate yourselves. Faith. Religion. Fusion of state and church (or temple, synagogue, mosque, or “whatever”).
My healing is now called “being saved”. But today that entails so much “stuff”. Look at those verses again … how much “stuff” did I demand before “healing”? Where are my contracts for good behaviour and righteous living and “looking good for God”? Do you see the Gospels describing a waiting list, a priority list, a private/public service “healing list”, a double-standard list, a who is deserving and who is not “healing ministry”? Point out those proof verses for me, Paul. Show me where I demand a whole bunch of stuff before, during and after.
But what do I hear week after week today? “All are welcome!”
So long as you come to church at the right time, dress and behave appropriately, stand and sit with everyone else, put money in the plate, shut your eyes when praying, and repeat that week after week. Or face the (loving) inquisition of commitment: Are you with us – and if you are – why are so you so absent? It costs money to keep this place open you know. “All are welcome” isn’t cheap to run you know. This ministry team – this church hierarchy – the pamphlets and marketing stuff – the pastoral care – the good works – the charitable giving – the kingdom work – the evangelising – the outreach – the media kit – this place … someone has to pay you know. And you have been saved – doesn’t that mean something to you? Don’t you care – aren’t you committed – hasn’t your life been changed – haven’t we changed your life enough?
I never did all that stuff. I never asked. I just healed. And what each did then … why is that even relevant?
I healed and they walked away. They went home. Their lives were changed. And they still had choice over what that meant. Some day they and me … we got together. Some day each one does (or does not). It’s always been that way.
“Grace Freely Given” – just like “All are welcome” – doesn’t really work your way. You don’t go to them – and they don’t come to you. And that makes your “Grace Freely Given” – your “All Are Welcome” – it makes it all so conditional. Because they have to come to you to receive “it”.
There is no “they” – I see no “they”. That is why I walked. That is why we must journey. That is the only way. To party. To have others look down their noses. To have others strike you off their membership list. To live fully. To live freely. To live free from fear of others.
Why do you still need proof verses to get it?
Are you scared you might let someone into heaven of whom I disapprove? Is that it? Because isn’t that living in fear and NOT freedom? And is that even logical – that you decide who is allowed in and who is not – even that there is an allowed in (that you define for them)? And why do you even need to say “all are welcome” – what does that mean – and how is that “grace freely given”?
I just heal. What else is there?”