What the heart desperately needs

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“Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Mark 2:5

Outrageous! Four friends break through the roof and let their paralyzed friend down through the roof to Jesus’ fee. Jesus had just announced forgiveness for a man let down through the roof by four friends. They wanted healing for their friend.

The first healing Jesus offered was forgiveness for sins. That’s the first miracle.

“And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5

The religious in the crowd were outraged. The social posture toward suffering would have lead them to wonder what the young man must of done to merit such punishment. But Jesus interrupts this thought. “Son your sins are forgiven.”

Forgiveness is outrageous. It always costs.  The cost must be borne by the one giving the forgiveness. The damage must be metabolized by the one who says, “you owe me nothing.” Jesus did not simply speak for God. He was speaking authoritatively as God. Jesus perceives their indignation and says,

Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins—he said to the paralytic—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” (Mark 2:8-11)

The second miracle is what the friends came for. But the first is the deep need of human hearts. Jesus has the authority to meet our heart’s deep need for restoration with God through forgiveness of sins.

Community that heals

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11Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.   1 Thessalonians 3:11-13

I’m impressed at how Paul and his friends longed to be with the churches of Jesus. Paul’s prayer here shows Christian community is not a natural affection or brotherhood. Rather it is a gift of the Gospel through Jesus. As our hearts are turned towards Him, as our hearts are healed and brought into real holiness before God, we are drawn forward into His character together.

Many of us long for community but are unwilling to do what it actually takes. Adjusting is painful and requires honesty, forgiveness, rootedness, servanthood,

and time.

Bastille, sings, of the longing for healing in community:

When all of your flaws and all of my flaws

Are laid out one by one

A wonderful part of the mess that we made

We pick ourselves undone

All of your flaws and all of my flaws

They lie there hand in hand

Ones we’ve inherited, ones that we learned

They pass from man to man

There’s a hole in my soul

I can’t fill it I can’t fill it

There’s a hole in my soul

Can you fill it? Can you fill it?

Jesus is filling our souls and healing us. The mystery is that He has also chosen to bring much of that healing in community and not just in a solitary walk.

Listen to Bastille.

Healing ~ Why aren’t we hoping for it?

24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. I Peter 2:24-25

 

My wife’s phone is broken. It doesn’t hold a charge. In other places around the world my first response may have been, “Let’s repair it.” But here, I must confess, I just thought, “Oh we should get a new one.” That’s what we do with broken things: we set them aside and get a new one.

 

We have a fear I believe in our consumer culture of admitting we are broken. Problem, most of us don’t value broken things. If its broken we believe it has lost its value. So we throw it out and get another. And that I fear is what we are doing to people as well.

 

And for that matter we are really not sure about “the healing of our souls.”

 

An admission of brokenness is a an admission that we might not to be useful. Its an admission of need. Its an admission of what has been done to us, of what we have done, and even what we just couldn’t seem to fix on our own.

 

We couldn’t fix our anxiety, our pain, our narcissism, our doubt, our jealousy, our envy, our hate, our addiction, our pride, our selfishness, our guilt, our shame, our fear, our drivenness, our laziness, our anger, or our lack of direction and passion for life.

 

Yet, following Jesus is not a self-improvement venture. Following Jesus is about living in the care and governance of the Lord who suffered for our healing. By His grace we can now die to sin and live to righteousness.

 

Broken; you are of immense value to God.

 

The healing; it starts with an admission and a divinely motivated move toward Him.

 

The prayer: “Heal my soul Lord Jesus; be the Shepherd of my soul.”