When I was 10 years old, I dreamt of being an archeologist. However, I gave up that dream because of the discouraging voices of adults and friends. I know of others who gave up their dreams of being doctors or even president of the US because adults around them said, "Let's be realistic. You could never do that! No one in our family has even gone to college!" Perhaps you gave up on a dream as well due to the criticism your dream received.
Studies show the age of 7 is peak year for dreaming. But as we grow older, we stop dreaming. I surmise it is because of the criticism our dreams receive in the name of "reality." But what if people were put in an environment where they were not only allowed to dream, but encouraged to?
Unfortunately, I think even in the church, we stop dreaming. We continue the same programs for 10 years or more without evaluating whether we see peoples' lives transformed. For many years, I thought my only responsibility was to share the gospel instead of ministering to the total person (spiritual, emotional, mental and physical needs)
People with great dreams and faith brought a paralytic to Jesus (Matt.9:2,6). We learned in an earlier blog post that faith is demonstrated in the following ways:
1. Show humility and confidence in Christ's power to heal (Matt. 8:2-3)
2. Offer specific requests (Matt. 8:6)
3. Submit to Christ's authority (Matt. 8:8-9)
4. Show faith in Christ's power to heal (Matt. 8:10)
Today’s paralytics are powerless, weak and without strength. They have lost the ability to dream since life has beat them down being economically disadvantaged or lacking ability to make a living. They need basic skills and practical vocational training. If people see Christ healing people in concrete, physical ways, they are more apt to believe He can heal spiritually, emotionally and mentally.
Do you realize that God has delegated this same power that heals “paralytics” to us? A little phrase at the end of Matt. 9:8 says "God, who had given such authority to men." How should we use this power? It’s tempting for me to build a nest egg or pursue success in this world rather than getting my hands dirty with the “paralytics” who need basic life skills. Jesus spent time with tax gatherers and sinners. That's why He came to earth. It’s easier to continue our programs and follow their rules rather than spend time with the needy (Matt. 9:9-13). He calls us to sacrifice our comfort zone and our most precious commodity, time. Read what New Testament scholar N. T. Wright says:
"One of the things I have most enjoyed about being a bishop is watching ordinary Christians (not that there are any "ordinary" Christians, but you know what I mean) going straight from worshipping Jesus in church to making a radical difference in the material lives of people down the street by running playgroups for children of single working moms; by organizing credit unions to help people at the bottom of the financial ladder find their way to responsible solvency; by campaigning for better housing, against dangerous road, for drug rehab centers, for wise laws relating to alcohol, for decent library and sporting facilities, for a thousand other things in which God's sovereign rule extends to hard, concrete reality. Once again, all this is not an extra to the mission of the church. It is central."[i]
Items listed in the preceding paragraph are the new wineskins required to preserve the new wine through miracles of healing. Matthew illustrates the dimensions of transformation in the following ways (Matt. 9:16-33):
1. A synagogue official took the initiative in coming to Jesus believing that He could raise his daughter from the dead symbolizing the power of the gospel to forgive those dead in sin (Matt. 9:18,23-26) (spiritual healing)
2. A woman bleeding for 12 years believed that touching Christ's garment would make her well (Matt. 9:20-22). We stop the bleeding by discipling people so they touch Christ through an intimate relationship with Him (mental healing).
3. Two blind men followed Jesus asking for mercy (Matt. 9:27-31). For people to experience God's love and mercy, healing prayer and God's words must address sins of the past, destructive beliefs, emotional & spiritual pain and curses & oppression (emotional healing)
4. Jesus cast out a demon from a dumb man allowing him to speak (Matt. 9:32-33). Once physical, spiritual, mental and emotional healing occur, we can cast out remaining demons and fill people with the Holy Spirit through meditation on God's word so they can minister and speak to others for their total healing (Spirit-filled healing ministry).
Our desire to seek holistic, supernatural healing among today's tax gatherers and sinners will be opposed by the religious establishment (Matt. 9:34).
How will we recruit those with radical faith to minister in our cities? We must pray because the laborers are few and the needs are great (Matt. 9:35-38).
Begin to pray for additional workers to be called into our cities. Don't be surprised if God calls you to be a part of the solution as seen in Matt. 10:1.
[i] N.T. Wright, Surprised By Hope, pg. 267