Reflections from the Pulpit

Healers and experts: local and distant

I’ve heard about the “placebo effect” for some time. If you believe the medication will work, then it will work; and if you don’t believe, then it won’t work.

Obviously, that’s not one hundred percent; but there is enough healing, or lack of healing, that takes place because of attitude.

“Mind over matter” has been known for a long, long time. It’s not only in medically-oriented healing, it takes place in our society as well.

We turn off when we don’t like someone, no matter what they’re saying. Sometimes it’s hard separating the message from the medium; listening to what we’re being told may come from sources we tend to tune out. Advertisers have to go to great lengths to get their messages across; once we hear it we can tune out ever afterward.

How many times have I heard or said “Not that again!” or thought (but hopefully didn’t say!) “Not you again!” I’ve become accustomed to car ads and, as one person noted, “Is there ever a time when mattresses aren’t on sale?”

Sometimes, it’s not what is being said or called for; it’s whose doing the speaking or taking charge.

Early on in my ministry; Church leadership called for a fund-raising drive. People that were known fund-raisers were called in and I listened to what they had to say. As I was listening, I turned to the senior clergyman in the Church and said to him “We’ve been saying the same things!” He agreed and then added “An expert is somebody who is twenty-five miles from out of town!” That’s it.

We will listen to a stranger more readily than a member of our own family.

There is a Biblical account of a prophet, Elijah, who is called to go before a wayward king, Ahab, and carry to him an unwanted message (1 Kings 18:1ff). Ahab knows Elijah and his first remark when he saw him was “Is it you, troubler of Israel? (ch. 18, v. 17).”

Elijah then delivers an unwelcome message; “I have not troubled Israel, but you have… (v. 18)” and it will be a long time before Ahab will change his ways (1 King 21:27).

Refusal to listen to the messenger and ignore the message causes lots of hardship; until the message finally gets through.

The Lord Himself has the same problem. During travels, He goes to His home town and His disciples followed Him (Mark 6:1ff.) He began to teach and those who heard Him were “astonished (ch. 6, v.2).” asked themselves “Where did this man get all of this?…. Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon….( vss.3-4) and Mark tells us “They took offense at him. The result was that “He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them (v. 5).

Jesus then called His disciples and sent them out (v.7) and “They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them (v. 13). A few or many? Is there something in our way of believing that can help or hinder? An expert is somebody who is twenty-five miles from out of town! Maybe not, if we’ll have faith. That quirky part of human nature seems to have stayed with us over the ages.

I had an assistant once who would tell people why I did things the way I did them or why I stood for the things I supported; and usually he was wrong!

He must have thought he knew me better than he actually did; but I decided that it was worth our time to get together and I could explain things. I did, he listened; we still had our disagreements but our relationship was much improved and he’d check things out before making any “interpretations.”

People play a role in their own healing. Belief plays a part in it. Expecting something good to happen plays a part. Seeing God has a place in it plays a part. Not pre-judging the people or the details or the people involved plays a part.

Whether we’re talking about healing illnesses or healing relationships or healing societies or healing weakened faith; we can allow the Lord to work through us and in us when we’re opened to Him and what He intends for us.

The “experts” are out there but every once and awhile, someone closer to home will offer some great wisdom or help make things right.

They’ve been in my life when I’ve listened to what they had to tell me. I need to thank God; most likely they’ve been part of my life and I didn’t realize the gifts they could bring.

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