I’m blessed that I have several magazine subscriptions through my job at OLS. One of the magazines I subscribe to is The Journal of Student Ministries, a recent addition to my yearly budget. I want to lift three paragraphs from an article in the most recent issue titled Is Jesus Magic? Healing and the Cross by Andrew Root. Andrew writes:
When we pray for healing, we ask not for magic but for a glimpse, a hint, a limited experience of the eschatos. We acknowledge that even our healing is only a taste, that even a child cured will one day be an adult buried. We recognize that in this world (which is not the end) healing, safety, and peace are not constants, nor are they the norm.
What is normal and inevitable? Sickness, atrophy, danger and violence. And because this is our norm, we need a God who bears it. Because this is the world in which we must live, we need a God who enters it. Because death cannot be escaped, we need a Jesus who experienced death himself. We need a Jesus who’s not magic, bur rather is present, bearing the suffering normality of a dangerous world in his own body. We need a Jesus who pleads for healing and hears only silence.
The beaten and crucified Jesus has entered and made himself known in a world where the norm is suffering and death; therefore, we can never assume or declare that healing and health are solely the signs of God’s presence and that suffering means God’s absence . . . . God’s presence is found first not in acts of healing, but in suffering and feelings of abandonment.
I really like the article, but these three paragraphs were the ones I resonated with the most. It seems to be a truism that most people walk around acting as if every thing’s great (at home, at work, with family, with finances, etc.) when they’re really just trying to hold everything together. We find comfort in projecting a false sense of contentment, because we don’t want people thinking we’re weak, or ineffectual, or frail, or any other adjective or adverb along those lines.
But in reality all of us have moments of weakness, moments when we’re not fully ourselves, moments when we fall short of who and what we are. The Bible calls this aspect of ourselves sin, and we’re constantly reminded that everyone – unequivocally – sins.
The article reminds me that as much as I’d like for this to be heaven on earth . . . it isn’t. It also reminds me that my life doesn’t have to be perfect to be pleasing to God – God is pleased with my half-hearted and half-successful attempts at holiness. It reminds me that I will never be perfect – that job description is left to God alone. And finally, it reminds me that in my practice of my faith I don’t have to be a super-happy, got-it-all-together Christian – I can marinate in the messiness of my life and faith and still know that I am fully known and fully loved by my God.
Blessings & Peace,