Sunday, February 8, 2015

Transformative Healing

We talk a lot about the benefits of faith.
Rightfully so, we talk about the joy of knowing forgiveness, the peace of mind that comes with knowing that death is not the end but only the beginning.
Knowing God through Jesus Christ has many benefits.
In fact, it is life saving to us who know of those benefits.
When we talk about faith in Jesus we have to know that it is in that faith that we draw strength, and life.
What we see in our Gospel this morning is not only the benefits but the reaction to those benefits.
We see what comes of knowing Jesus is service.

This morning we have another healing story.
And on the surface it seems rather small and insignificant healing.
Jesus goes to Simon’s house and his mother in law has a fever.
Jesus heals her from the fever.
In our day most fevers are not life threatening, but in Jesus day a fever could mean death very easily.
So this is a significant thing that Jesus does for Simon’s mother in law.
There is of course a problem with every story of Jesus healing someone.
We all want to know why Jesus/God doesn’t heal everyone.
Why this person instead of that person.
It is a good question.
In our Gospel for this morning part of the reason is because there are simply too many people that need healing.
Part of the answer is because Jesus needs to move on to preach the Good News.
But I think it is important to realize that Jesus does not stop every bad thing that happens in life that would be impossible given the limits of human life.
What Jesus does is preach a message that transcends the bad things.
It gives us a vision of what can come from the things that we face in life.
It is a message that tells us even through death God can bring new life.
That even through our sin Jesus can make righteousness.

What comes from God’s actions in our lives?
What comes from God’s transformative healing actions is a life of service.
Simon’s Mother in law is healed and instantly she gets up and starts to serve.
Some might see this as a very sexist thing to say.
But since we know Jesus the greatest honor we can have in life is to be a servant.
What we see is that Simon’s mother in law is a disciple of Jesus.
In some ways a better disciple then Simon, because what Simon and his fellow men want is power and prestige.
They don’t want a life of servitude.
They want a life where they are the boss.
Jesus constantly tells them that is not what it means to know God’s healing power.

And for us who come here Sunday after Sunday.
For us who know this God through Jesus Christ we know the benefits.
But those benefits are not meant for us to be selfish.
This is not about a self improvement.
When we are healed from our sin, fears, selfishness, and resentments, we are able to be disciples through serving others.

This is one of the joys and one of the hard things about being a pastor.
I have seen both in my ten years.
I have witnessed extraordinary disciples of Jesus Christ who give of everything for God.
I have seen people healed from the fever of selfish ambition, to let go of fevers to be able to show God’s love through their lives.
But we all know that church people are not perfect.
I have seen the opposite too.
I have seen people be selfish, only think about what they want.
I have seen people only care about what they think, and not willing to listen to others.
Of course God loves both equally.
It is not about that.
Because God offers both the same healing, God has given generously to both through his Son Jesus Christ.
It is not that one is better than the other.
It is only a matter of perspective.
One is able to see somehow what was given and keep that in the front of their minds.
They have been able to rise up and serve because of the grace of God.
It is why we have these great gifts of God to be able to serve each other, and to show God’s love.

We all are sick in some way shape or form.
We all have our scars that we carry deep within us.
And we all have things about us that we do well.
We all have things that we need to work on.
Healing can come to us when we know Jesus.
Healing can come from knowing that our sins are forgiven so we don’t have to serve perfectly only out of love.
Healing can come from having our fears put aside so that we are able to see in others the good that they have.
Healing can come from having our scars transformed into more compassion for others.

I usually don’t use movies as examples in my sermons.
But our family watched the movie Soul Surfer and my kids told me that I should use it this week in my sermon.
It is a true story about Bethany Hamilton.
She was a top surfer from Hawaii.
She got her arm bit off by a shark, and nearly died.
But she was able to come back to once again compete at a high level as a surfer with only one arm.
One of the things that helped her in her healing was a mission trip she took to Phuket, Thailand who were devastated by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
There she saw what others struggling through a tragedy.
When she was on that mission trip she helped people overcome their fear of the ocean by teaching them to surf.
It is through her struggle and pain that Bethany learns about what it really means to serve others.
It is through her ordeal that she learns to let go and be free.
It is her faith that keeps her going, but she learns that she was given things by God to serve and help others.
Just by her surfing she helps heal others who are struggling with their own limitations.
At the end of the movie a reporter asks her if she could undo the loss of her arm would she.
She says no because now she can embrace more people with one arm then she ever could with two.

This is the thing about our healing.
It might not be that God takes away what is wrong.
But God transforms it into something that makes us more compassionate and better able to understand and serve others.
The Good News is not that God makes life easier, but God transforms sin into righteousness, death into life.

That is what God can do for us.
Help us with our own limitations.
Offer us healing.
And because we are healed we can then serve others with an open heart.
Just as Bethany learned to do.
Just as Simon’s mother in law did.

It is good to always be reminded of all the benefits of faith.
To be reminded about all the good that God does for us.
Because that can help us to know that we are then set free to serve others.
We are let go from our own desires and fears to give to others.
God helps us serve.

That is what we leave here doing.
So we go into our week knowing that we are healed through God’s love and grace given in Jesus Christ, and through that we are transformed into servants of God.

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