And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” – Mark 5:34
When Jesus make the statement above to the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years it was in the midst of a chaotic situation. Jesus was on the way to heal a 12-year-old girl who was on the verge of death. Both stories show us something important about our Savior. He is a healer. So often we consider this only in the physical or spiritual sense. Those two areas do not encompass the wholeness of our humanity. Christ also offers and provides emotional healing. Through my pastoral ministry, I see this as one of the most essential ministries that Jesus provides. Our salvation is not simply into eternal life, it is into eternal life worth living and that starts immediately. Our faith shapes our emotional lives, our spiritual lives, and our physical lives.
I’ve had the joy of doing a great deal of pre-marriage counseling over that past few months. I performed two weddings in the last two months and additionally, I am counseling three other couples in preparation for marriage. I will not perform the marriage of any couple if I discern it unwise for them to marry. Additionally, I will not perform the marriage for any couple I haven’t sat with to ensure they have laid a good foundation for their future relationship.
One thing I emphatically communicate to couples is that is important for them to lay a good foundation. A foundation that is level and square. As they begin to build a life together on that foundation, mistakes will be made. That said, from my experience building homes in Mexico on mission trips, it is far easier to build and correct mistakes when the foundation is level and square. In a relationship, a level and square foundation looks like having skills and tools to interact in an emotionally healthy manner. In my own marriage counseling, a wise mentor gave me five ground rules to live by. First, never touch another in anger. Second, do no physical actions in anger (e.g. Throwing a plate, punching a wall, slamming a door, etc.). Third, do not swear at another. Fourth, do not call each other names. Finally, do not use sarcasm with another. On the surface, it seems like an obvious list except perhaps the last one.
This list fundamentally moves a couple toward warmth and tenderness. These rules build love and resilience rather than diminishing it. As a couple lives into these, they become what Christ intended the institution of marriage to be, a living example of God’s love for us.
What if we in the church also had a set of “ground rules”? Perhaps this list could move us toward warmth, tenderness, and in the model of Christ, healing. Obviously, it would take a while to provide comprehensive ideas, but lets start with communication. When you have a problem with another Matthew 18:15 is the a remarkably healthy way to go about it. Instead of complaining to a third party, talk with the person directly one on one. If they don’t hear you, bring another in.
I’ve been pushing our congregation hard toward faithfulness. I have been hearing some complaints from “third parties”. If you have a differing opinion about what faithfulness should look like, let's talk. Ask any Elder on Session, I am approachable. I’ve had disagreements with every Elder on Session and we have worked it in a way which moves toward warmth and tenderness. We have built trust with each other. This does not need to be limited to those on Session, however.
I desire nothing more than our congregation to be a bright light of love in our community. To do that, we must be healthy. Christ has promised our faith will make us well. Let us take Him up on that promise and become true evangelists, proclaimers of the good news of Christ as Savior. May it be so!!!
In Christ’s Service,