Sunday, June 28, 2015

Who touched me?

Mark 5:25-34 The woman who was healed when she touched Jesus robe.

There are so many thoughts that well up as I consider this message.

Firstly, how did this woman know she would be healed by touching Jesus' robe?

Most of the miraculous healings in the gospels took place with some form of interaction between Jesus and the sufferer.

Yet this lady seemed to have no opportunity to approach Jesus due to the great crowd. Like Zaccheus, she had to think of something on the run.

Zaccheus decided he would climb a tree.

This lady decided she would touch Jesus' robe.

Faith directed her mind.

What is this faith?

It is a special part of a human being.

We all have some faith in something(s).

No matter how talented we are, faith is needed to express or exercise that gift.

At some point we take the plunge.
To some it seems obvious, to others risky, but either way, a chance is taken, based not on scientific reason, logic or proof, only trust, or maybe a hunch. This faith is also coupled with hope. It must overcome fear and self-doubt. This implies that courage and faith are connected.

Trust may be placed in something someone else has told us, or something we understand inside our hearts.

That trust can be broken or disappointed. But true trust in Jesus never disappoints.

This lady, somewhere inside herself, in the face of realizing she would not be able to present herself to Jesus in the expected manner for someone seeking help, somewhere deep inside, she was inspired. "Just touch him. If you can just touch him you will be healed".

Was this the Holy Spirit inspiring her. Was it God the Father, Was it simply the awesome presence of Jesus himself ?
It was all of these things, and it was none.
It was in fact, her faith, which we understand is a gift from God, but a mysterious and powerful gift that is only present in it's exercise.

And so this woman somehow squeezed through the crowd, reached as far as she could, and at just the right moment, the tips of her fingers brushed the edge of his robe. Nothing very significant. Just a tiny act of faith. Unlikely to be felt by Jesus. But immediately she knew and felt in her body that she was fully healed. All the money, all the effort, all the faith she had place in her previous efforts to receive healing by more accepted ways had failed, but this little act of faith, which cost nothing but  the effort required to reach through a crowd, had achieved everything she had ever hoped or dreamed.

How interesting it is that Jesus felt power go out of him.

I used to read this in my "superhero mind-set", thinking Jesus had a certain amount of energy which could be sapped out of him leaving him weakened. A bit like "kryptonite".
But that is me reading Hollywood into the scriptures.

Is it not possible for Jesus to feel power go out of him yet still be full of power?

It is clear that Jesus not only "speaks healing" but imparts something of himself to those he heals. Something more than words leave his body. Something that can be transmitted through touch. Yet Jesus can heal without physically touching, as he did with the centurion's servant.

But Jesus always knows when he has healed, even if he doesn't always know who he has healed, not immediately anyway.

In the crowd he could not pick out the woman, or so it seems.

Maybe he did know. Maybe it was important for the woman to publicly acknowledge her healing.

Maybe, if she had slipped away anonymously, she would have always felt uneasy about her healing, as though she had received it illegally, without the true favour of Jesus, the Messiah.

In that moment when the woman realized she was found out, what were her thoughts?

Was she now to lose her healing?
Was she to be publicly humiliated for her impetuous action?

She fell on her knees trembling with fear. She humbly confessed her action prompted by faith; faith in Jesus.

Instead of rebuking, Jesus reassures and comforts her.
He addresses her as "daughter"( Implying "daughter of Abraham", "daughter of faith", "daughter of God")
And he explains that her own faith actually healed her! Time and again we see Jesus explaining to the healed sufferer, that it is their faith, not Jesus alone, that has healed them, or maybe even not Jesus at all?

He cheerfully dismisses her with his blessing. She is forever reassured about her own faith and the love of Jesus.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The "C" word

I'm not sure if I've already blogged about this.
It comes up in my thoughts regularly.

As true followers of Jesus, I think it is something we are called to practice.

This will offend and anger many.

By compromise, I do not mean water down our faith, or turn truth into relative truth. Change the meaning of scripture, or delete passages from the bible.

Keith Green's famous biography is called "No compromise".

I love that book.

How I interpret that title is more like "Never denounce your faith, no matter what"

But compromise, to me, means doing without things that seem important but are not.

Compromise will allow different denominations to fellowship together.

Compromise is contrary to the "I'm right theologically, therefore I am better than you" attitude.

When Peter drew away from the uncircumcised christians described in Galations, he was being uncompromising in his view of circumcision. Paul confronted him about this.

Freedom in Christ means we are free to do and free not to do.

So in Christ, I am free to sing hymns with an organ even if I prefer electric guitar.

In Christ I am free to listen to a female preacher, even if I hold to Paul's teaching in Timothy.

In Christ I am free to "sign the cross" as a catholic, even if I am not currently catholic.

In Christ I am free to attend a church where I may disagree with some of the tenets of that  denomination.

In Christ, I am free to accept those who call themselves His disciples, as brethren, even if they do not see me as brethren.

In Christ I am free to save my personal sharing of the hope that I hold onto, in Christ, for that special moment when someone asks me to share with them why I am the way that I am.

 When I am feeling judged in my christian expression, by other christians, it hurts. If I listen to Christ's teaching about treating others as I would like to be treated, then I would prefer that I be accepted by other christians, as I am, and that out of love for me, they would pray for my maturation in faith, trusting that God will speak to me, from his word, from the pulpit, or privately by someone motivated by the love of Christ, to show me where I am failing.

There are so many areas we are free to compromise.
If I attend an islamic wedding, am I denying Christ?
If I pray with or for someone of a different faith, am I denying Christ?
If I only ever pray for someone else to come to a saving faith, without ever breeching theological discussion, am I denying Christ?
If I continually tell people that they are lost unless they trust Jesus, but never associate with them, unless they agree, and come to church, am I truly loving them?
If I truly believe I am theologically correct on most important matters, does that make me better than those with differing views?

By attending a church I didn't feel was my theologically ideal church for many years, I feel as though I have learned that compromise, meaning, not continually looking for fault in others views, but celebrating the truths that we share and express in different ways, and accepting that we can't see eye to eye on everything, is a valuable and good way to fellowship.

We should not force others out of their comfort zone, nor should we feel forced to do something we believe is wrong.

The Holy Spirit is powerful. More powerful than us. He has authority. We often don't.
Yes, we can quote the scriptures. So can Satan.
Our calling is in obeying the scriptures. Not pointing out everyone's faults.

I love guitars. I've realized lately, there is no perfect guitar. There are great guitars, and really great gutars, but no perfect guitars. Ordinary guitars are still able to lead a group of singers quite well.
Perfect guitars, if they exist, are kept locked away and are seldom played.

There is no perfect church or denomination. Everytime we walk into a church we are possibly compromising.

Yet those imperfect churches are still loving people and celebrating God's great news of forgiveness.

As I write this I think about some "churches" I would not attend.
And my views on marriage.
I guess there are some things I can't compromise...