A few years ago, Jack and Rosa* drove to another state for three days of intensive marriage counseling. After they got home, Robin, a woman from their church, asked Rosa how the trip had gone. “One of the most powerful things I learned,” Rosa said, “is that while we can experience substantial healing for our emotional wounds, our healing is not complete this side of heaven.”
Robin, a recovering addict, was horrified. “If anyone had told me that,” she panicked, “I don’t think I could have kept on!”
Rosa tried to explain that far from robbing her of hope, the counselor’s words gave her freedom to continue her healing work without feeling guilty whenever she discovered more areas that needed healing. Robin wouldn’t hear it. Rosa went home feeling clobbered.
People who “don’t need healing” have been around a long time. When Jesus joined Matthew and “other disreputable sinners” for dinner, the Pharisees were indignant. “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” they asked his disciples. “When Jesus heard this, he said, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor–sick people do’” (Matt. 9:10-12, NLT).
Obviously, Jesus wasn’t saying the Pharisees didn’t need healing. No, Jesus was saying there are two kinds of people–those who know they need healing and those who don’t. And he came to help those who know (v. 13).
I haven’t always seen it this way. Growing up in the church I didn’t identify with the hookers and crooks. I was a good kid.
And the Pharisees were the bad guys, so I knew I wasn’t like them. I think I assumed there was a third category. There were people who knew they were sick, there were sick people who didn’t know it, and then there was my group–people who really were okay.
But I was wrong. There are just two kinds of people–those who know they need a Healer, and those who don’t.
Most Pharisees never got this. Which is why, of all the people Jesus encountered, he saw them as the greatest threat to his mission.”You won’t let others enter the Kingdom of Heaven,” he told them, “and you won’t go in yourselves” (Matt. 23:13).
The most dangerous people in the church are those who “don’t need healing.” For the “gospel” they are preaching is not the Good News of Jesus Christ; it is the “yeast of the Pharisees” (Mark 8:15).
The healthy church is made up not of people who have it all together, but of people who need healing and know it and who are extending to others the same healing grace through which God is making them whole.
- Do newcomers to your church find a church full of people who “have it all together,” or one full of people who know they need healing? Is it a safe place for them to be real about their struggles?
- How well do you and other leaders model being real about your need for healing?
* Names and details have been changed