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HEAVEN'S DYNAMITE: The Role of Healing in Mission.

by Mike Endicott

I don't know what church life is like in your part of the world but here in the UK subjects like Mission and 'different ways of being church' seem to crop up at regular intervals with some great justification.

Numerically we are on the way down although we know in our heart of hearts that the Light will never be extinguished. If we cannot get them to come and find Christ in the church building then perhaps we should go and be Christ in the community?

And here is where we are as yet failing to come up to the challenge. The question that begs an answer is this, if I am to be like Christ in the community how should I behave? The only real
answers we have come up with so far are almost entirely limited to an attitude of heart known as 'being nice'. May I use that, with no intention of being in the least bit derogatory or offensive, as a generic term for all those marvellous good works that Christians do in the community? I do that, though, with just a little part of my tongue in my cheek because of the old and true adage that 'there are more good people outside the church than there are in it'.

We need in these days to re-double our encouragement in the mission field but it may all be pure effort without much reward unless there is a fire at the heart of it.

That fire has to be the Gospel message. But wait - our pure offer of everlasting life through Jesus Christ does not seem to be sufficient any more. Most non-believers that I come across would tell me that this is a wasted message as either of two destinations is likely to befall every one of us at death. Either we are all going to a flower-garden heaven or there will be something called oblivion. Either way, all comes right in the end and no on needs to care much any more.

So, let's take an imaginary walk down the nearest street and interview every household, asking them to tell us about the problems that really do touch their lives where it hurts. We would
need to take with us three big cardboard boxes in which to put all the answers and we would need to label them (not necessarily in order) 'Money matters', 'Relationship problems' and 'Health'.

We may need a pocketful of empty matchboxes for all the others but the big ones would probably cover most of it.

It would seem too obvious to state, perhaps, that a missionary congregation would therefore need to know how the Gospel effects three things, 'Money matters', 'Relationship problems' and 'Health'. I think it was Ghandi who once said that if God were to come back to the world he would have to come back as a loaf of bread. Christ in the community in these parts would have to look like solutions to 'Money matters', 'Relationship problems' and 'Health'.

If our clergy struggle to teach it that way then perhaps we should be talking to our Bible and Theological Colleges and if they don't know the answers then perhaps we should be begging our theologians to come up with them.

All this means that we have to start believing again in a God of miracles. A little drop of holy honesty in the mixture will show that most of us don't have an expectancy of God any more.

In the Old Testament the only 'claim to fame' that our God had over all the others running around at the time was that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob moves. All the others do not. The early church believed that - the church held it dear for its first one thousand years but since then...?

We need to find a way to become expectant again and then we will see miracles in the home, in the street, on the margins of our congregations, on the mission field.

Would this be difficult to do? Would it need some huge theological upheaval? No - we only need expectancy the size of a mustard seed and things start to happen, grace begins to respond.

There is a simple formula here - add Grace to expectancy and heaven explodes. Why? - because this is the full proclamation of the Gospel of Christ, the message is supposed to be supported by miracles.

I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done-- by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. Romans 15:18 (NIV)

Historically, Elijah found himself in a similar situation as we do today. The country had gone after other Gods. He did not climb Mount Carmel to pray for them. He did not offer to put King Ahab on his prayer list. He did not invite eight hundred and fifty false prophets to go up with him to preach to them, yet again, or to hold an outreach coffee morning. He took them there to show them the real God. And their response? It was just what so many of us are longing to hear in our streets and on the margins of the church -

"The LORD--he is God! The LORD--he is God!"

Revd Mike Endicott

Order of Jacob's Well

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