Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mega-Church #8 (Church #19): Heal, Cure, Fix & Renew

Really, I could just describe my experience at Metro Christian Fellowship utilizing two lists:

YES
High School Gymnasium (Non-Denominational Church in a Lutheran High School’s Gym)
Cheesy, Repetitive Christian Rock
Big screen with cheesy, repetitive Christian Rock lyrics
Testimony
Prayer
Laying on of Hands
More Cheesy, Repetitive Christian Rock
Mediocre Singing
Drummer in a completely enclosed room with windows
Harmonica player (best part)

NO
Sermon
Pastor
Liturgy
Choir
Organ
Scripture
Substance

I could ramble on for 800 words about all the things not included in the service. My soapbox is prepared for another couple pages on how much I dislike Christian Rock. Nevertheless, there was actually something unique about this service in that it included testimony of people who had been “healed” by God and/or Jesus.

When in doubt about meaning, religious or otherwise, I turn to my good friend Merriam Webster.

Main Entry: heal
Date: before 12th century
transitive verb 1 a : to make sound or whole b : to restore to health
2 a : to cause (an undesirable condition) to be overcome : mend b : to patch up (a breach or division)
3 : to restore to original purity or integrity
intransitive verb : to return to a sound state


This is a beautiful set of definitions. How many different ways can you think of to be made whole? How does our health need to be restored? Can we overcome an undesirable condition? Is it possible for troubles to be mended, but not forgotten? What are the breaches in our lives that need patching; what gaps need a bridge? Exactly what is the state of purity or integrity to which we must be returned? Where are we when we are at our most sound state?

Then I asked Merriam about another word:

Main Entry: cure
Date: 14th century
transitive verb 1 a : to restore to health, soundness, or normality b : to bring about recovery from
2 a : to deal with in a way that eliminates or rectifies b : to free from something objectionable or harmful
3 : to prepare or alter especially by chemical or physical processing for keeping or use
intransitive verb
1 a : to undergo a curing process
2 : to effect a cure


These definitions are extraordinarily different. The third definition for “cure” implies a “chemical or physical” process. I believe there are things from which we can be healed, but not cured, at least not by the same entity. Jesus, as a carpenter, fixes things differently than a doctor does.

Churches can create dangerous expectations when they claim to cure rather than heal. It is possible for the two to coincide, but not particularly common. One can be healed from a terminal illness in that they emotionally come to terms with their ailment. One can be cured from an illness when the illness itself disappears.

I understand the yearning to be thankful and voice testimony when a miracle of curing happens, and it does happen. I just worry when we start to depend on that miracle. I’m not concerned that God is getting more credit than doctors, medicine or hard work, but I am afraid of the aftermath of the curing theology.

I knew someone who recently died of lung cancer. There was a time when she was almost perfectly well, cured, you might say. She was a devout Christian and prayed for herself and others constantly. When she was almost cured, she was grateful, happy and excited. When she wasn’t, she was settled, ready and calm. I believe her cancer was healed by prayer in that she was prepared for any outcome, and made the best of the time she had. But her cancer was not cured, and that is not God’s fault, not science’s fault and most definitely not her fault. Some would accuse her of wrongdoing, or of not praying or believing hard enough. Some might say God chose her specifically to not be cured so that she could heal others as she was healed. I don’t agree with the some people that say those things. If I did, then I would be resolved to the fact that bad things happen to good people, and though I accept that as truth, I don’t accept it as theology.

We have such great potential to grow in the areas of medicine and educate on the subject of wellness. By depending solely on prayer, we are not utilizing our own opportunities nor recognizing the progress of nature and society. I have emotions—guilt, anger, hatred, jealousy, etc.—that are constantly in the process of healing, but I don’t know that they can ever be cured. I guess I’ll leave that up to the psychiatrists.



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