6-10-16 - Community of the Healed

How do we measure success? Positions held? Salary earned? Size (or number) of homes? Twitter followers? Jesus of Nazareth, aka Jesus the Christ has had perhaps the greatest impact on the most people of anyone who ever lived. His influence has been extraordinary across millennia and miles. Yet during his public ministry, he never held a paying job. He never asked for money. There was a house to which he came back when in Capernaum, but otherwise he traveled and ate and slept, supported by others. Who were these people?

Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

This “summary verse” gives us a glimpse into the way things work in the mission of God: transformation generates generosity; resources flow into and out of the community of the healed. There were people of wealth and influence in this company – Joanna certainly had friends in high places. But I’m struck by how many on Jesus’ “support team” were women who had been healed and delivered from evil.* Their experience of spiritual power and love flowing from Jesus ignited an intense gratitude and desire to invest in his movement so that others might be touched in the same way.

This is one more reason why the ministry of healing is central to Christian life in community. Wounds and ailments are inevitable in our world. Yet it is abundantly clear that God’s power to heal and restore was unleashed in Jesus and has continued to be mediated by his followers, now called his Body. The community of Christ-followers really can be the community of the healed, and as we find ourselves healed in body, mind and spirit, our healed wounds become the source of healing for others.

What healings have you experienced in your life in God? How did you respond in generosity or ministry?
Is healing talked about, celebrated, lifted up in your faith community? Is it liberally offered to others?

The way we “do” church in the 21st century looks quite different from even two decades ago, and a lot different from the first century. But the invitation to follow Christ as a disciple, and to be on the "support team" for the company of Christ-followers with whom you walk remains the same. We give not out of duty but because we have known Jesus' healing touch, and since then nothing has been the same.

And if you don’t feel Jesus has touched you – there’s an excellent place to begin in prayer. Ask the Christ-followers you meet to bring his touch to you. And then keep it going.

*Luke’s including this reference to Mary Magdalene and the cause of her infirmity here makes it clear she is NOT the woman of ill repute at the center of the previous story. There is nothing in scripture to support the tradition of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute or woman of loose morals (allegedly introduced by Pope Gregory to quell veneration of Mary as the first apostle). The gospels tell us only that she suffered from demonic oppression, and upon being set free devoted herself to caring for Jesus and his disciples. And she was the first to encounter the risen Christ. Apostle!

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