Sunday, April 25, 2010

Intimacy of Wholeness by Greg Austin

An old Seinfeld episode has Kramer being burned with coffee and filing suit against the coffee company. Meanwhile, his attorney convinces Kramer that he won't get much in settlement. However, frightened by potential negative press, the coffee execs determine to offer a substantial settlement, including free coffee for life and a healthy sum of money. When the parties meet, the company spokesman begins with the offer of free coffee for life: "Mr. Kramer, we're prepared to offer you free coffee for life, and . . .” – far too greedy to get something of value, Kramer leaps up, shakes the exec's hand and shouts, "I'll take it!" Cosmo gets lattes for life but misses the money.

Our spiritual "lawyers" have taught us that healing is the apex of God's favor and of our desire, shortchanging the intention of heaven in providing the greater blessing of wholeness.

A question: Did a blind Fanny Crosby suffer without the healing of her eyesight, or did she live with wholeness, but not healing?

I was a participant in a particular miracle in Manila, Philippines when God created brand new eyes for a 30-something year old woman who had been born blind. I looked into empty, hollow eye sockets one moment, and the next, there were beautiful, brown eyes and she was leaping with astonishment and joy - HEALED! But did she also receive with the healing, the wholeness the woman with an issue of blood was given? I don't know, but I know that I would far rather move through this world in physical blackness and enjoy the intimacy of wholeness.

Sister Crosby gave us, I think from her personal walk with Jesus, "Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine; O what a foretaste of glory divine."
She wrote songs such as, "Close to Thee," "Near the Cross," "Safe in the arms of Jesus," and "Draw me Nearer" among many others. Notice the repeated theme of these listed. Could it be? Fanny lived unhealed but whole? And would she have exchanged one for the other? Give up wholeness in order to activate one of five senses available to most? I think that question is rhetorical and its answer obvious.

To the woman plagued with a blood disorder in Mark 5 (and in Matthew and Luke), who the gospel writers do not mention by name, and who had lived her life ostracized and alone, disconnected from society and normal interpersonal relationships, hearing the title, "Daughter" coming from Jesus must have been earth-shifting.

I'm positing this likely because of my admittedly personal, current physical condition. A heart disease not yet healed or repaired places me in a more alert state of awareness that life is but a vapor that appears for a little while. I cannot describe here the joy and the glory of the intimate knowledge and fellowship of His presence which I have experienced during the most difficult and painful moments of this illness. I truly feel that while I have not yet experienced healing, I am glorying in wholeness.

At the risk of sounding boastful or of appearing spiritually superior to anyone else, I think I have an understanding beyond what I've previously known concerning Paul's (foreign sounding) discussion of a third heaven experience, when he says "he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it) not lawful for a man to utter" and speaks of not boasting "except in my infirmities." 

There was a season among the charismatic church when "sozo" was popularized. The teaching of sozo was helpful in that it considered salvation as more than merely freedom from sin or even soundness of body and touched upon making one whole and complete, spiritually, mentally and/or emotionally and physically.

While it can be argued that sozo should be interpreted in a narrow and restrictive manner, i.e., to deliver or to be delivered, this is to do harm to the broader understanding of the term, which includes "to save," "to keep safe and sound," and in the case of the KJV, "to make whole." Of interest to me is contained in the Greek definition of sozo to save from the evils which obstruct the reception of the Messianic deliverance, which would include Isaiah's proclamation concerning One Who would bear our griefs and carry our sorrows, One Who would be wounded for our transgressions and would be bruised for our iniquities. Isaiah notes "the chastisement of our peace was upon Him," suggestive of a more complete work than merely the deliverance from sin and the salvation of the soul.

The shortcoming, I think of some of that teaching was the overt insistence that we must receive and experience all those things, all the time, in the right now. The weakness was in not viewing the subject of salvation in the context of eternity. The day is yet to come, I think, when God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, there shall be no death, nor sorrow, nor crying and there will be no more pain.

Doubtless the anonymous woman of Mark 5 (and also of Matthew and Luke) would experience tears, sorrow, crying and would eventually experience death following her day of healing, but through it all, she was now "daughter," and He was "Father." Certainly there is a wholeness there implied which I fear the majority of modern Christians have yet to experience.
 Greg  -

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