As my fascination with the notion of spirituality grew during my teenage years, it coincided with the impact one might expect it to have on ones life style and experience. This included the concept of healing. Were the scripture accounts of Jesus healing a reliable record of actual events? I liked to think so. I read some literature that similarly proclaimed it. Most importantly I met with others who similarly agreed and above all someone who was actively involved in performing such prayer healings.
Two things stood out from Jesus life.
His early ministry was declared to be about the establishing of God’s Kingdom, ‘Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand’. The sign of this Kingdom was evident in his profound wisdom and teaching on love and mercy. It was accompanied by miraculous work, healing, cleansing of spirit and in a few occasions those extraordinary nature miracles. Only at his life’s culmination did his people witness his resurrection. The second point centres around the outpouring of the spirit and from this time which we call Pentecost history tells us that others did participate in similar ways.
And why not, for Jesus did say, ‘and you will do even greater things than these.’ These records all captured my imagination
In my adulthood and ministry my own life continued its search for further understanding of healing. What I encountered was a very divided and confused picture.
Firstly there was an increasing resistance to the contribution of faith in healing. This essentially came from the scientific community that largely declared that the new insights of modern medicine proved that such faith healing was no longer appropriate. The world had come of age and modern medicine would ultimately solve all illness.
Within the church there was a large movement spoken of as liberal thinkers. They respected the contribution of the scientific world and building upon this knowledge reexamined the scriptures and worked at removing the extraordinary mystical component of Jesus life. They claimed that the later disciples were a bit too enthusiastic with memories of Jesus life.
On the other hand we also saw sections of the Christian community as strongly devoted to the original record and these liberal thinkers were as opposed. The Pentecostal and Charismatic movement emerge and built their Christian life around profound and dramatic displays of spirit.
A third development also appeared, but this time outside of the traditional Christian faith. People were turning away from both the dryness of the scientific world and the austerity of the institutional church. The health and wellbeing movement and the yoga meditation world influenced by the expanding Asian traditions embraced their own message of healing, growth and expanding consciousness.
I met people from this background who spoke of the gift of healing they encountered. They lay hands on others and spoke of the healing they witnessed. In a word I have seen this broad range of devotion to healing from people of all backgrounds.
HEALING AND THE KINGDOM
The attraction to healing seems to arouse people of all eras of history and I believe this is important. Our world is fragmented and provides no guarantee for the idyllic utopian experience. The threat to health, wellbeing and good fortune is common across the board. It threatens our value in the overall scheme of life. Do we really matter?
To the loving heart, it does matter and Jesus inspired by love reached out to affirm the value of all people most notably the most deeply broken and wounded. For him, his display of a compassionate healing became a sign to affirm his teaching that God’s Kingdom was at hand. The Christian faith has been at the forefront of caring for the most afflicted and I believe will always continue to do so.
THE NEW CHALLENGE
In our world the urge to care and heal continues to abound. Unfortunately humanity too often fights against one another about the best and right way to do things. I believe each of these urges to heal offers something important. I believe a new challenge lays before humanity which will enhance our means to care for one another.
We can see that life is best enhanced when approached in a wholistic way. Healing is best practiced when wholistic. This challenges us to learn how to integrate all contributions. Here we return to our faith centre. Our increasing knowledge of Jesus is that he is the ultimate template for a wholistic understanding of life, integrating all from the creation spoken of through science through to the mystical heart of the divine.
Christ is All and in All.
What I believe is that we are called to ensure that prayer remains foundational to a wholistic vision of healing. The Christian numbers are small but therefore the call to faithful prayer remains, even more important, for in it we are proclaiming that the Kingdom of God is near.