Kingdom Living 2 – Healing & Love
Well, now that I’ve really outed myself as a person who believes that God’s mission is in no small part about healing, I want to clarify a few things and connect this thinking with some other, larger themes that are common for me.
First, I think the best way to understand healing or any of the spiritual gifts, is as a subset of love in action from an all powerful God and creator. As the New Testament makes abundantly clear, love is primary. Healing is merely a particular form of grace, or love, from a God who has the power to do it towards a world that needs it. It’s really not complicated. Have you ever loved someone that was suffering? So has God. He still does. The difference, of course, is that God has more power to do something about it (not a particularly bold claim to make about God, right?). Even people outside of the Church think that healing is a natural (expected?) thing for anyone named “God” to do. What really trips them, and us, up isn’t that God heals, it’s all the occasions that he doesn’t heal but supposedly could, without being asked, if he’s so loving, powerful and aware. That’s honestly, though, a topic for its own post. The point for now is that if we ascribe both love and power to God (the anchor of Christian theology?), then saying that he heals people is easier than adding 2 and 2.
Perhaps more importantly, seeing healing as a subset of God’s love & ability puts it in its proper context, both relative to love and relative to all the other expressions of love. And as a few folks rightly pointed out in the discussion at Jesus Creed, healing the physical body shouldn’t be our only or even primary focus. There’s all kinds of “healing” and love is bigger than healing. Amen. Christ-shaped love should be our highest goal. And such love will inevitably lead us to work for the good of others and cooperate with God in all (literally all) sorts of life-building, life affirming and healing ways–absolutely not limited in any way, shape or form to physical healing, or to nonretaliation to evil people, or to generosity to friend and foe, or to preaching the good news, or to hospitality to strangers, etc., etc. We tend to like some of these expressions more than others; some are riskier, physically, socially or financially than others. They tend to be avoided for those reasons. But if Jesus-shaped love is our goal, if he’s the one showing and telling us what God’s mission of love is and what shape that will take, if it’s his mission which we enter as his apprentices, how many of the expressions and forms I mentioned do we leave out, and if so, on what basis? If it is Jesus’ mission we’re joining, if “discipleship” means anything, we need to seriously think about and pray about and discuss the expressions of love and mission which were particularly central to Jesus’ own life and that of his apprentices. How prominently does healing, of all kinds, fit within the mission of God as revealed by Jesus?