WHAT IS CHRISTIAN HEALING
What is Christian healing? That is a question that is often asked and has many answers. The answer is simple. It is asking Jesus Christ what to do about any disease, and doing it that He might bring wholeness from the inside out. It is not a process of magic whereby we get God to do what we ask. It is praying, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
Christian Healing is the manifestation of the creative power of God's love as He comes to make us a new creation in Christ Jesus. It is concerned not only with the stewardship of our body of flesh and blood. It is concerned with our ultimate relationship with God as our Father, Jesus Christ as our Savior and Healer, and Holy Spirit, as the Executive of Father's will for us as He revealed it in Jesus Christ.
It is not simply the maintenance of life in this world, but the growing edge of God's creation where the Kingdom of God encounters the old creation, and brings about transformation as well as restoration. The purpose of Christian Healing is to grant us entry into the Kingdom now, that we might live in the world, but not of the world. It is our invitation and access to God's Kingdom and the wholeness He has prepared for us.
Since we have a two way street of, "How do we receive Christian Healing?" and "How do we minister Christian Healing?" we will have to look a little closer at "asking Jesus what to do."
How do we receive Christian Healing?
God is not into magic, and Christian Healing does not use incantation. He is into creation through the manifestation of His love. He calls us to Himself, and healing begins when we are willing to seek Him as He reveals Himself to us. That revelation will always be in accord with the revelation that He has already shown us in His Only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
The diagnostic questions are simple also. Do I know God? If I do not know Him well enough to talk with Him, I need spiritual healing. Do I accept and forgive myself and others? If not, I need healing of the soul. Am I able to perform some task that I find meaningful and of value? If not, I need healing of vocation and the body healing to go with that. Do I think of the Kingdom of God as present? If not, I need healing of the mind. Am I a member of an intimate community? If not, I need to become a member of a community where Jesus Christ is the Center. Do I forgive and receive forgiveness? If not, then I need to seek to receive and give forgiveness.
The receiving of Christian Healing is simply to ask the Lord to lead you to the community in which He intends you to share, and to the persons in the community through whom He will minister to you. Ask the people to whom He sends you to pray for you; and being willing to receive the healing on His terms. If you are willing to ask, He is able to open the way for you to find what you are seeking from Him. It may not always be what you expect, but He will act in your life. When the asking is done, be still and listen to what He wants to do next.
It is important to pursue healing from one area to another. From time to time the disease that we find in our bodies is connected to a source that needs healing in the soul. The disease we find in our soul might find its origin in our spirit. All of them might stem from our failure to forgive or seek forgiveness. Perhaps the most difficult task is to forgive ourselves.
When faced with a serious disease of any kind, it might be well to begin with a confession of our sins to God so we might receive His forgiveness. Then we might make a list of the people we need to forgive, beginning with God and ourselves. To forgive God does not mean that He has done something amiss. He has just not lived up to our expectations. It is simply a reaffirmation that we are willing to accept God as He has revealed Himself rather than as we had apprehended Him initially.
When we are unable to forgive someone, we might ask God to forgive them through us so that we might get in on His love and forgiveness for the person. (For a more detailed discussion of forgiveness, see the OSL tract on forgiveness.)
How do we minister Christian Healing?
Jesus gave us six, "Go and Do" Commissions which define the realm of healing as Christians. The first three are found in His commission to the disciples when He sent them out as apostles. He first gave them authority and power, and then sent them to, "Proclaim the Kingdom of God, to Heal the Sick and to Cast Out Demons.
The proclamation of the Kingdom is not simply a proclamation about the future. The Kingdom of God is at hand, and the King can be known. He is known now in part, through a glass darkly, but He is known. We can be reconciled to the One who created us, who loves us, and who has prepared the Way for us to live with Him as His children. That reconciliation opens the way for the healing of the spirit. It is the access we have to determining who we are and why we are here. It is the primary source of deliverance from lostness, loneliness, and stress.
Prayer is no longer talking to God. It becomes talking with God. It is the encounter wherein we transact the trade of our disease of spirit for His grace and peace in our lives. Christian healing begins when we can assist people to connect with the author of creation who alone can bring wholeness to us now. It is perhaps the great difference between Christian Healing and other alternatives.
The casting out of demons simply means to completely change the internal motivations that move our lives. It means to remove both the reactions to the world around us, and the compulsive behavior that drives us or hinders us, even against our own will. While it is normally seen as the removal of spirits that act on our behavior; it may also include removal of the reaction bases which bind us in some sort of codependency.
In the final analysis it means to set people free from the seven deadly sins of pride, envy, anger, sloth, avarice, gluttony and lust; so they might become the garden of God bearing the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, humility and self control. It means the exchange of the character of Adam for the character of Jesus. It is the resolution of the stresses that plague us with disease, and it enables us to live with ourselves as we learn to live with God
The healing of the sick has to do with the finding and fulfilling of vocation, the purpose for which God has created us and to which He has called us. It is not simply a matter of rising and walking. It is a matter of walking with God in accord with His purpose for us. It is concerned with finding and walking in His will.
The healing process equips us physically to walk in the purpose He has given. It does not necessarily make us into specimens to show case in the world. It brings us to a freedom, strength and the grace to become His, and to work with Him.
The next two commissions are given following the resurrection. "All authority has been given unto me, Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them all that I have taught you." These two are followed by the great promise, "Lo, I am with you, even to the close of the age." Mt 28:18ff
The commission to teach is for the healing of the mind. If we look at the Gospels, we might be struck by the teaching about the Kingdom of God, while He was doing with work of healing. He told us, in effect, that we are to think Kingdom, not human limitations. We are to think solution and not problems. When we ask God what the solution is to be, He might not come up with the same one we have in mind, but He does not leave us alone, and we are never without Hope. He is with us always.
Perhaps we might say that our minds and our thinking are healed when we encounter a crisis and immediately think prayer rather than how we are going to work it out ourselves. Prayer has been put down over the past few decades, but it is our communication line with both the wisdom and power of God. Think Kingdom!
Making disciples has always been about the idea of saving souls; but it is also about the healing of the community. It is not simply bringing souls out of hell into heaven. It is bringing souls into communion with God and with one another. There is no provision in the New Testament for individual Christians. It is individual in community. The community is the Body of which Jesus Christ is the Head, and all of His disciples are members. "..so we, though many, are one Body in Christ, and individually members one of another." Rm 12:5
In the final analysis, I cannot become whole apart from the rest of the Body which Jesus is preparing for the Kingdom of God. There is no way for me to practice love alone. There must be someone who is giving and someone who is receiving in order for love to become a reality. The intimacy to which we are called by God is to be practiced in the community of Jesus' disciples - those who know that they are loved infinitely and unconditionally, and can share that same unconditional love with others.
The final commission is, "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you...If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." Jn 20: 23 We are sent to forgive. We are sent to heal relationships with others as well as with God. In the context of the community we are taught by James " Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed." Ja 5:16
Confession comes in a variety of forms in church traditions, but it does not come as an option. It is a necessity for maintaining an open relationship with God and with other people. Forgiving ourselves and others is also essential to the flow of God's healing love and power into our own lives, as well as through our lives for the lives of those to whom He sends us to minister.
These six commissions embody the fullness of Christian Healing. It begins with establishing a living relationship with a living God, Who wants us to know Him as Father. It continues with the nurture of that relationship in prayer and worship, individually and corporately. It extends to our soul and the enabling grace to know and accept ourselves as God knows us and loves us. It incorporates the changes that grace imparts as God makes us a new creation, preparing us to enter more fully into His Kingdom. It works out the extension of these healings into the body that we might be prepared to know and fulfill the purpose of our creation. It enables us to think in terms of the Kingdom of God being present, and the authority and power of the King being available as we pray, "Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done - nothing more, nothing less, nothing else"
What about use of Medical Care, Diet and Exercise?
Medicine and Counsel work from the outside in. Doctors treat; God heals. We are not to avoid external treatment; we are to use it as we as we are led, prayerfully offering the physicians and treatments to God for His use. We trust God to use the physician of the body or the psyche to prepare us for His love to restore us to the wholeness He intends for us to use in our vocation.
I recall a time when I was dealing with a cyst. I had it prayed for a number of time, and it would come and go. I finally said, "Lord, if you don't heal this thing, I am going to a doctor."
To which He responded, "I will tell you to whom you are to go."
When any medical procedure or treatment is used, seek God's direction in whom you are to contact, commit the doctors, nurses and all medication and treatment to Him, and let Him fill in the bottom line. The Book of Sirach, from the Apocrypha, gives us a practical guide to the use of physicians and medications in his thirty-eighth chapter.
Diet is important to our physical well being. Since God has not made two of us alike, there is no specific regimen to which we must adhere; but it is essential that our food intake be balanced and in accord with our body's capacity to metabolize it. While it is not a fetish to hang around our necks it is important to have a sensible diet that does not fall on either side of gluttony - starvation or over eating.
Exercise is essential to maintain normal health. It is especially necessary for those who are subject to high stress. Stress that dumps adrenaline into the cardio-vascular system, allows fat molecules to enter also. They must either be burned out through exercise or settle out causing cardiovascular problems with circulation. The obvious solution is not simply exercise, but the working toward the elimination of the stress through the healing power of God's love..
Christian Healing is found in the context of a community of people who share two things - the needs over which they have no power, and the grace that God has given them in Jesus Christ to share in their corporate lives. The healing power of forgiveness is operative in that community to assure that relationships are kept open to the flow of the love of God that heals the spirit, soul, body, mind, community and relationships.
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