Adventures in Healing and Wholeness #3 -God is On Your Side

One of the key theological questions is: “Is God on Our Side?” Many people see God as an enemy, out to get us, punishing us with illness or using illness as a way to teach us a lesson. Others see God as the arbitrary source of health and illness. Whatever happens is God’s will – whether it is cancer or good health, heart disease or AIDS. We just have to accept whatever comes, knowing that God has a plan behind everything, including our illness. As Rick Warren says, God plans all the important events of our lives without our consent. Everything that happens is “father-filtered,” as a test of our faith. But, too often, people fail at the test, living meaningless lives in this world and facing eternal alienation in the next.

The encounter of Jesus with a man with leprosy, a spiritually-contaminating skin disease, shows us another picture of God. (Mark 1: 40-43) In first century Judaism, persons with leprosy were “unclean,” living outside the boundaries of society, contaminating everything and everyone they touched. The man tentatively comes to Jesus, fully expecting a rebuff. “If you choose, you can make me clean.” No doubt he’s surprised at the vehemence of Jesus’ response. Jesus touches him, risking becoming unclean himself, and asserts: “I do choose. Be made clean.”

Nowhere in the gospels do we find Jesus doing the following things: 1) blaming the victim for her or his illness; 2) claiming illness is God’s punishment; or 3) asserting that illness is God’s will. In contrast, Jesus proclaims that he came that “I have come that you might have life in all its abundance.” (John 10:10)

God is on your side. God wants you to be well. Sickness is not God’s will. God does not want to punish you; God wants to heal you. This is good news whether you are healthy or sick.

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The Adventurous Lectionary - Third Sunday after Pentecost - June 5, 2016
About Bruce Epperly

Rev. Bruce Epperly, Ph.D., serves as Pastor at South Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Centerville, MA. Prior to coming to Cape Cod in 2013, he served on the faculties and often in administrative and chaplaincy roles at Georgetown University, Claremont School of Theology, Wesley Theological Seminary, and Lancaster Theological Seminary. Bruce is currently a professor in spirituality, ministry, and theology in the doctoral program at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C. He has served as pastor or interim pastor of congregations in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. He is the author or co-author of over 35 books in the areas of theology, spirituality, ministerial excellence and spiritual formation, scripture, and healing and wholeness, including Process Theology: Embracing Adventure with God; Finding God in Suffering: A Journey with Job; From Here to Eternity: Preparing for the Next Adventure; and A Center in the Cyclone: Clergy Self-care in the 21st Century.


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