Somewhere between our physical bodies and the Great Spirit, who is Yahweh the Eternal, is some kind of metaphysical connection. Lately I’ve been wrestling with where the small string is which I can pull with my fingertips and unravel this great mystery of how, exactly, the Transcendent interacts with us here on earth.
Last night I was listening to a podcast in which the preacher (who was hyper-charismatic and perhaps had a slightly over-realized eschatology [for those of you who speak English, that just means he leans more toward the line of thought that God will constantly provide miracles and show up in crazy, supernatural ways]) said that he and his church spent time one Sunday meditating on the goodness of God. And as they did, people in the church began being healed.
He said something like, ‘as we simply meditated on the goodness of God and worshipped Him and prayed, the goodness of God began to manifest itself in peoples’ bodies. We simply don’t realize just how good God is.’
I completely believe every word the preacher said, but I struggle with it. And maybe you do too.
I struggle to believe that God would show up and heal people simply because they were talking about how good He is. I struggle because I came out of a giant organization which would constantly pray for miracles and ‘speak things over people’ and claim to see a lot of healings and the like which turned out to simply be mental persuasion more than actual miracles. I struggle because I was never once healed of any of my chronic health problems in my years in that organization. I struggled because there’s a cynical mouth inside of me that’s always saying ‘bad theology always hurts people’ (which is true) and then refuses to be stretched or to grow.
But then I realize that the root of this struggle is I don’t really believe God is that good.
I don’t believe this eternal, glorious God cares enough to transcend whatever membrane divides the spirit from the flesh and touch our bodies with His fingertips.
Haven’t you been there?
Haven’t you dwelt in places where it seems like the goodness of God is nothing more than a nice piece of fiction?
In my last post, I wrote about last Friday, when my youth group and I watched The Passion of the Christ and tears flooded my cheeks when Jesus stumbled under the weight of His cross and His mother ran up to Him. I lost it when He looked at her and said, “See, mother, I make all things new.”
(I am once again in a coffee shop and I am NOT going to cry this time!)
Last night I was speaking to my youth group about sexual purity. We were looking at the story of Joseph, specifically the scene in Genesis 39, where he is seduced by his master’s wife, but he flees from her, despite the consequences. I told my kids to also flee from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18).
Because what you do with your body matters.
Our bodies are not mere intellectual conceptions which can be tossed hither and yon without consequences. They were made to interact with the beautiful creation of God, and with each other in beneficial ways, and when we use them in a way that makes beautiful things ugly, there are consequences.
As I spoke to these kids, most of whom come from broken families, and some of whom have been abused, I saw their faces begin to sink. I could see the thought bubbles hovering above their heads.
Welp. It’s too late for me….Oh well.
And I saw myself leading these kids down the same path of shame and rebellion which was so pervasive in the 90’s and early 00’s. When you’re simply told not to do something, you just want to rebel. And when a rule has been broken once, what’s to keep us from breaking it again? And again? And again? Especially if it feels good. And shame rushes in.
I was about to wrap up the message when I remembered I had thrown one more slide into the presentation. It was the photo from the last blog post, showing the battered and solid red face of Jesus gazing into the morose eyes of His mother, with the subtitle at the bottom.
See, mother, I make all things new.
Of course I could barely speak because the lump in my throat was the size of a watermelon.
“This scene was while Jesus carried His cross up the hill to the place where He would be crucified,” I explained. “He would take all of our sin and all of our shame and put it to death with Him. The question is, do you want to be made new? Do you believe that when He says all things, He really means all things? Or do you think you are too dirty and too far gone to be made new by Him?”
We are people of very small faith.
When I get lost thinking about deep philosophies and how on earth humans can transcend the thin barrier between us and the Invisible, it’s easy for me to forget God’s chosen method of revealing Himself and His goodness: Himself.
Jesus is the connection between humans and the Divine.
And His path to making all things new is one stained with droplets of blood.
What we do with our physical bodies matters because we too are persons comprised of spirit and body. We are remiss to divorce the two and use our body as a shortcut to satisfaction at the neglect of our spirit. It’s the same as a man who waters his plants but forgets to feed his dog.
But we screw up.
And when we find ourselves in a place of sexual shame and brokenness, I think Jesus simply asks one question:
Do you want me to make you new?
I am a man of weak faith who daily doubts the goodness of God. I need Him to make me new several times a day. I don’t know what happened in that one pastor’s church; if those people were simply telling stories or if they were really healed by Jehovah Rafa, God our Healer. I don’t know what the goodness of God looks like, or if you can bottle it up and spin a profit from it.
But I do know this: The goodness of God looks like the mangled and battered body of the God-man Jesus Christ while He hangs pathetically on the cross. The goodness of God is the carpenter from Nazareth making all things new while He collapses under the weight of His death trap.
The goodness of God is far greater than I can begin to comprehend, but I’m glad that preacher made me stop and think about it.
May we be people who wander around the corridors and archways in the cathedral of God’s goodness; never exhausting its magnitude and always seeing it from a new angle.
May we tire our minds thinking about the bigness of His goodness, and then think about it some more.
Because you never know what will happen…Perhaps those invisible fingertips will punch through the thin barrier once again and bring new strength to your bones.