I really intended to get this out last weekend but was overwhelmed by Vacation Bible School preparations. I was asked to do the Bible teaching times so in addition to gathering props (I love a good object lesson!), I was decorating my assigned room to look like a cave for our “Cave Quest” theme. Good times!
On the 4th of July weekend, my Pastor taught about freedom from a portion of scripture in Galatians. One verse (5:13) particularly caught my attention:
“You, my brothers, were called to be free.
But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature;
rather, serve one another in love.”
Paul is being very direct to instruct/remind believers that the grace and mercy demonstrated in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was not “all about them.” We can be so egocentric that we often believe (or at least act like) it’s all about us. The freedom purchased on the Cross can subtly become “the thing Jesus did for me so I can have a good life and do whatever I want.” Paul firmly rebukes such thinking by citing the reality of what God intends we do with our freedom – serve others.
Over the last 20 years I have been witness to the healing work of Jesus; over and over He has “released the captives and set the prisoners free” from their emotional and spiritual pain and bondage. In light of the verse above, my mind quickly went to a question regarding my pastoral ministry: “Why does God heal emotional and spiritual wounds?”
Undoubtedly, God gets the glory for His healing (if folks give Him the credit He is due). Plus, some folks will share what the Lord revealed to them with others who will find comfort or direction in those words. But surely, it is because He loves people and doesn’t want us to be unhappy or discontent. Right?
And the last sentence is where I had to pause. So many individuals who have come for ministry embrace the belief that God supernaturally intervenes in their lives primarily for their benefit. While the words of the song, “Oh, how He loves you and me,” are true – He does love you and me – but even that song can become all about us. The emphasis can shift from the wonder of His love to the object of His love – us.
I then realized my responsibility to do a better job of helping people understand that God has a purpose for healing them – so they can serve by being less hindered, more effective disciples of Jesus Christ. When I was in the Navy and became sick or injured, the doctor didn’t tend to me primarily so I could have a better life but so I could get back to the ship and do my job without restriction.
Makes me think of a book and study series entitled “Sacred Marriage” by Gary L. Thomas. The foundational premise of the book is this: in the kingdom mindset of God, marriage is not about making us happy but making us holy. Marriage is the refining tool the Lord uses to expose my flaws and failures so we can humbly come to Him for correction/redirection in pursuit of being like Christ – if that is, in fact, the desire of our faith.
For extra credit: while the above thoughts are bouncing off the walls of your mind, consider reading Luke 17:7-10. It’ll mess with your mind.