Christian Healing

Barb Green, Parish Nurse
Milton, WI

What comes to mind when you hear the word healing: doctors, state-of-the art cardiac units, amoxicillin? What about the phrase ”Christian healing”? To some, this calls to mind the worst religious broadcasting has to offer. Many dangle the promise of miraculous cures to those who would just summon the faith to buy them. With the right balance of illusion and charisma, con artists can make big bucks by exploiting all the suffering in the world. Some theologies have instilled in believers a distrust of traditional medicine. It is sad to read stories of people refusing basic health care because they believe their sicknesses are part of “God’s plan”— that God, not the physician, should be the one to determine whether or not they will be made well.

At the heart of the Christian story is this conviction: God wants us to be whole, restored, redeemed, reborn into the fullness of who we were created to be. Jesus revealed this through His life and ministry. He was preacher, teacher, and healer. He challenged demons to flee, the eyes of the blind to open, and leprous skin to be restored. Jesus had God-given authority to heal through words and touch for a very important reason. He healed for the same reason that He shared parables with people: to show the nature of God’s kingdom. Just as the kingdom of heaven is like the smallest seed that grows into the largest tree, so is the kingdom of heaven like a woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment.

The woman’s affliction (Luke 8:42-48) affected not only her body. Her culture had strict guidelines for cleanliness and a bleeding woman was considered unclean. She could not participate in the religious life of her community and anyone who came in contact with her would also be considered ritually unclean. Barred from religious expression, denied human touch, and always on the brink of death, the chronic hemorrhage had drained the life out of the woman. Her radical act of touching the hem of Jesus’ garment threatened Jesus. Because He had been touched by an untouchable, He could be labeled unclean. Healing power flowed from Him to her and her life was saved. Her body and role in the community were restored. It bears repeating: the kingdom of heaven is like a woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. Perhaps then, the kingdom of heaven is also like a psychiatrist who helps a patient find the right combination of antidepressant medication.

The promise of the gospel is that we will be healed: body, mind and spirit. The human community will be made whole. As Christians endeavoring to live a way of life shaped by our Savior, we have work to do. We are called to participate in the unfolding of God’s great plan. We are called to be healers, even as we are still wounded by loss and pain ourselves.

Christian healing is not about magic and it is certainly not abut trickery. Not every disease can be cured. Not every life can be preserved. Healing is never about cultivating false hope. Healing moments take place every day in ordinary and extraordinary ways. When we embody God’s healing presence to others through touch, concern, or liturgy, we take part in God’s activity of healing the world. Sharing a plate of cookies with a grieving family, listening to a stranger in crisis, comforting a feverish grandchild, praying for a friend fighting cancer are all holy work, healing work.

Our God is a lover of life; He will transform every tear of grief into a tear of joy. Christ responds to our pleas for help and healing in ways we request but also in ways other than we imagine. His mission was not to guarantee healing but to give hope. The good news of Jesus is that we will be redeemed, we will be saved, and we will be healed. In the meantime, we hope and pray and work for God’s gracious will to be done on earth as it is in the kingdom of heaven.

(Adapted from Healing Christian Healing, Church Health Reader, Spring 2015.)

Clip to Evernote