Building a culture of honor is a much bandied-about phrase these days in many non-denominational and “apostolic and prophetic” groups. On the one hand, you have our civic culture of rabid individualism and egalitarianism. It’s in the ditch of disregard and disdain for any concept of honor or respect. In the opposite ditch is a reactionary response to this cultural slide: honor that is non-relational, coerced, demanded, and required because of ungodly measures of rank and status. Both ditches are at work in the body of Christ, and both are wrong. The issue is not the legitimacy of honor. The problem is the values and ideals of what constitutes honor in a kingdom context, and why, how, and to whom it is due.
Like sequels to a lousy B-grade horror movie, bad ideas often get recycled in the Body of Christ. It happened again for me this week in a painful phone conversation with a dear, damaged, soul. The bad-penny doctrine I am referring to is the concept of absolute submission to an alleged “spiritual covering” as a necessity for your spiritual welfare and advance. The spiritual covering is allegedly embodied in your pastor/leader, etc. This issue has been hit hundreds if not thousands of times over the years by myself and other authors and bloggers. As confirmed by my phone conversation this week, like a zombie, it just won’t die. For Jesus’ sake, and for the well being of His church, I am going to briefly hit it again here.
Would you listen to, or value the opinion, of someone who has memorized a restaurant’s menu, can explain it in flawless detail, can argue why their restaurant preference is better than the restaurant down the street, but who has actually never tasted the food on the menu they are talking about? We do it in Christianity all the time. We think accurate mastery of Bible stuff = life and substance. We think because we can explain the life of Jesus or Paul, that we possess the life of Jesus or Paul. Not necessarily. Just because someone has a strong opinion on a trendy topic based on the latest book they’ve read, or can debate this or that doctrine, or understands the Bible, etc., does not mean he or she is worth listening to . . . even if their stuff is “right.” It is those for whom the word has become flesh, those who are living it, not philosophizing about it, that are worth being listened to. Any fool can have an opinion on the restaurant. Only those who have paid the price to eat a meal there, are worth listening to.
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Proverbs says a broken spirit dries the bones. For those of us from even a nominally Christian background, this is hardly earth shaking news. However it is more than a quaint archaic metaphor. The implication in this verse, and others like it, is that the inner man affects the outer. Sometimes, even our physical health can be affected by the state of our soul. Those of us who have trusted Christ for our salvation don’t realize how deeply imprinted we’ve been with a scientific materialist worldview regarding everything except our salvation. This unconscious frequency in our thinking affects the issue of faith for healing and our approach to sickness, disease, health, and medicine. It is one reason among many why we do not see legitimate physical healings as we might.
A leader is not the chief visionary. A leader is not the chief executive. A leader is someone who accepts the stress and strain of the present inconvenience of service in order to bring the ones he/she serves to fullness of destiny.
One of the most significant reasons we do not see healings in our midst as we might, is because of the worldview assumptions and the cultural values of western individualism and personal privacy. The scriptures were not written to, or by, people with a western worldview. They understood sickness, disease, and healing differently than we do. We cannot come to the scriptures with our western presuppositions, and expect kingdom results. This profoundly affects our theology and practice of praying for the sick.
The following true story was so poignant, timely, necessary, and clearly illustrative of why I no longer partake of common expressions of organized charismatic religion, I asked my good friend, Bryan Corbin, to guest-blog for me.
A recent incident, involving a young woman that Corbins have known for years, served to reinforce Bryan’s and my belief that much of what we call “church” misses the heart of God completely.
Biblical faith has three important objective elements: His Word, His Person, and His Cross. These three are in fact, one. The Word is the revelation of His Person. The Cross is the instrument of revelation. The Person of the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of the Lord) actively administers both the Word and the Cross to us. We get into trouble when we try to separate these three from one another.
The Jews didn’t engage life in a compartmentalized fashion. For them, Yahweh’s nature couldn’t be parsed into this or that sub-attribute and broken out for independent analysis. For us, it’s the methodology we use for deepening our understanding of something. It’s the foundation of our science. Acknowledged or not, it’s the way Western Christians have been taught to engage life, the Scriptures, and God Himself. Our worldview affects how we approach the topic of healing. Healing is an outflow of a maintained relationship, not the result of adherence to principles.
Healing gifts have ceased. They have passed away because we now have the Bible. If you are not healed it is because of sin or a lack of faith on your part. God only heals from His sovereignty. Healing is guaranteed in the atonement, if you are not healed, it’s your fault.
These and many other diverse perspectives have left many in the body of Christ in confusion and pain. This five-part blog series will be excerpts from my book, Healing: Hope or Hype? In it, I try to find a new covenant, grace-filled, faith-filled, God-honoring, scripture-honoring middle road on this topic. Neither ditch of passive, fatalist, unbelief in a mysterious sovereignty and the guilt, manipulation, and fraud of the televangelists is acceptable. Those suffering in their bodies deserve better than either of these extremes can offer. Those of us in health owe it to those who suffer to minister to them in identificational care, and power . . . without the hype, shame, and manipulation.