This is the first article I’ve seen anywhere that gets healing right, in my estimation:
In both Evangelical and Charismatic circles, evangelism often looks remarkably like business sales.
- Establish a need – “You are headed straight for eternal, fiery torment. You need help”
- Pitch the main benefit – “By accepting Jesus, you can avoid eternal, fiery torment.”
- Sweeten the deal – “But wait, there’s more. God answers prayer (for healing, finances, relationships) so you will have a better life.”
- Always be closing – “Would you like to pray this prayer and avoid fiery damnation?”
- Don’t waste too much time on any one pitch – there are too many souls that need saving.
In this context, healing ministry tends to be part of the salvation sales pitch. It tends to be less personal and more “how can we reach the most people”.
There are upsides and downsides to this perspective, but regardless of one’s opinion on the matter, it makes sense to have an “I don’t know” theology on healing when our goal is maximum reach and “results aren’t guaranteed”. It makes sense to keep our expectations of healing vague when we can’t predict the outcome and salvation is the primary objective.
The rest of the article is fantastic, too, and I recommend it highly.
I’m thinking about healing today because I’m coughing out my lungs due to bronchitis. Thanks God for medicine. But I’ve always been taught healing as a sort of magical thing that happens when I do x. Doesn’t matter what x is, it’s usually something that’s not sustainable. Have so-and-so pray for you, he’s really anointed. Give more money. Pray more. Read your Bible more. And the list goes on.
The only thing I know to do is pray and trust. That’s all I know any more. I’ve had to discard so much of my former knowledge concerning Christianity because it was wrong. It was mostly head-knowledge applied to scriptures that didn’t mean what the thinkers thought they meant. So I’ve been re-learning things, little by little. I’m a little ashamed sometimes because I don’t feel like I’m able to offer much on this blog except my experiences. It’s like I’m learning to walk again after having my legs broken for years. Hopefully you’ll forgive me if I’m a bit of a mess.
Anyway. Pray and trust God for healing. The author of that article may be on to something about the authority thing–that is something I haven’t thought of much–but when I got down to that part of the article, I hit an invisible ‘wall’ that I notice from time to time.
I want to go into this because I think it’s an important part of living a spiritual life (Christianese: ‘being led by the Spirit’). I am a prolific reader both online and offline, and have noticed that sometimes I will hit a point of resistance. I’ve come to recognize this as not an impediment from the devil (I don’t believe in the tradition depiction of ‘Satan’), but an important tool the Holy Spirit uses to guide me.
If I’m reading something and it starts getting a little overwhelming, or it’s about to, I notice there is a point where if I keep reading, it’s like pressing through a wall. I don’t know if you’ve seen any of 11.22.63, but it feels a little like the invisible wall the characters run into–they just know it.
Other times I will pick up a book or start reading an article and I just can’t start it–it’s almost like my eyes go crossed and I can’t focus. It might be a good article or book, but it’s not right for me at that time. When I have tried pressing through this ‘invisible wall’, I’ve found I can sustain myself for a little while with mental effort, but quickly grow exhausted and bored. So I don’t press through these walls any more. I know that whatever it is, it’s not right for me at that moment. If it’s online, I bookmark it for later. If it’s a book, I put the book down and pick something else.
This is really important because I went through a long time in my life–and I believe some of you have experienced or will experience this at some point–where I was completely unable to read nonfiction books. I tried picking up the Bible and got nothing. I read books about the Bible and got nothing. I would try slogging through and just couldn’t understand. God, don’t you want me to learn this stuff? I thought there was something wrong with me (which wouldn’t really be any surprise!), but the fact that this persisted for months on end really caught my attention. In my experience, if there’s something wrong with me, the Holy Spirit is really good about pointing whatever it is out and either fixing it outright in a miraculous fashion, or showing me things I can change to correct it. I wasn’t getting any such guidance, so I was confused.
It didn’t take a long time for me to just give up. I’m terrible at ‘kicking against the goads’ now. What I did was start reading fiction. I read over 100 books last year and am on track to read as much or more this year.
In the past couple of months, I found that this ‘wall’ disappeared. I picked up a book that I felt I really needed, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, and thought, ‘You know, I’m going to try this.’ And I was able to read it and listen to the audiobook with no problems. I tried again with another book (which is excellent and something you should purchase right now), Inner Anarchy: Dethroning God and Jesus to Save Ourselves and the World, which talks about the same things I talk about here–living the inner life, life from the Spirit, the heart instead of the head–only better than I can currently express here. This site is a work in progress. It’s practice for much greater things.
So, suddenly I was able to read nonfiction again. My mind started setting back into the legalistic frame, though, saying, ‘Now that I can read nonfiction, I need to make up for lost time and only read nonfiction.’ Well, that doesn’t work either. The Holy Spirit is remarkable in his ability to keep us out of legalism and keep us on the right path. So the same thing happened–I would get bored and either would have to listen to music or– surprise!–go back to reading fiction books. So it’s been a nice balance. If I feel like reading nonfiction, I do. If I feel like reading The Three-Body Problem (which is excellent, heady science fiction), I do. If I feel like listening to Peter Gabriel all day and reading nothing, I do.
Don’t worry about the pace of your spiritual growth. Learn to stop comparing yourself to other people. It would drive me up the wall when I saw fellow believers advance into full-time ministry within a year or so, while I was ‘stuck’ growing, learning, and getting free–a complete mess for so many years. For a long time I didn’t even know anything was wrong with me, until things came to a head and I had a mental breakdown. Then the healing truly began. I’m 37 now. I became a Christian when I was 12. That’s 25 years and I have no big ministry to show for it, just a guy who is a little more whole and a little less of a mess every day.
Freedom is really wonderful. Allow yourself to be led by the Spirit, to let those deep feelings inside, the ones where you feel a curious oneness with God–allow those to permeate your thinking. It’s amazing what will happen. You’ll become happier and your life will become filled with purpose. And the best thing is? It’s easy, because you have a Helper, God himself, helping you in that direction. It might not be easy at first–the human mind can be extraordinarily resistant to change–but trust him, he’ll get you out.
If you hit a wall, change directions slightly and keep on walking.